PALO, LEYTE – At least two people died of leptospirosis in Eastern Visayas in January due to the massive flooding in the first four weeks of the year as cases of infection shoot up over six times higher than that of last year.

The Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of the Department of Health (DOH) in Eastern Visayas recorded 23 cases of infection – 22 males and a female – all over the region, or 667 percent higher than the three cases recorded over the same period last year. 

Jelyn Lopez, information officer of DOH in the region, attributes the surge in leptospirosis cases this year to the flooding experienced in different places all over the region. 

Leyte recorded the greatest number of cases with 10. Samar recorded nine cases and two each in Eastern Samar and Northern Samar. One of the fatalities is from Jipapad, a flood-prone municipality at the northernmost edge of Eastern Samar where flood water at the town center reached over five-feet deep. The other casualty is from Samar province. 

“We heightened our education and public warning campaigns but it’s just that we had many flooded areas due to the heavy raining that we experienced,” she said. 

DOH-8 made advisories in social media and over the radio appealing to the public to maintain cleanliness in their respective houses and communities to rid of possible breeding ground of rats.

The DOH-8 had also repeatedly warned the public, especially those who wade on flood water, to take prophylaxis at their respective rural health unit to avoid infection.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals caused by Leptospira bacteria. The bacteria enter the body through wounds when in contact with floodwaters, vegetation, and moist soil contaminated with the urine of infected animals, especially rats. An infected person may experience fever, muscle pain, headache and reddish eyes. If not treated, leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death. By Elmer Recuerdo (EV Mail Feb. 6-12, 2023 issue)