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Have High Fever, Diarrhea, Eye Redness After Wading In Floodwater?
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  • The Department of Health’s (DOH) cautions the public to be wary of floodwaters because it increases the risk of getting leptospirosis.

    What is leptospirosis?

    People contract leptospirosis when water contaminated with the urine of an infected animal, most commonly rats, enters through cuts on the skin or the eyes, nose, and mouth, according to the World Health Organization.

    Compared to 2017, leptospirosis cases are up by 41% from the same January to June period in 2018, according to DOH in a release last week published June 27, 2018. Reported cases are at 1,030 with 93 lives already lost. In the National Capital Region alone, there have been 38 deaths and an increase of 60%. 

    “The fact na may namamatay is cause for alarm,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III told Rappler in 2018. “Yung nakakalungkot lang dito is this is a preventable disease for as long as everyone does his part,” he said.

    According to the DOH, leptospirosis symptoms include: 

    • high fever
    • muscle pain
    • eye redness
    • chills
    • severe headache
    • vomiting
    • diarrhea
    • yellowish skin discoloration 

    “If left untreated, leptospirosis may cause kidney failure, brain damage, massive internal bleeding, and death,” adds the DOH.

    WHO also explains that leptospirosis can be challenging to diagnose as its symptoms are similar to those of dengue, typhoid, and viral hepatitis. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are crucial to help prevent worsening of the disease in a patient.

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    How to avoid leptospirosis

    The best way to prevent leptospirosis is to avoid wading in floodwaters. “My advice to those who had to wade in flood these past few days is to be alert for any symptom and to seek early consultation,”  advised Duque.

    Two days of fever should warrant a consultation with a doctor

    The American Academy of Pediatrics also has specific advice for leptospirosis prevention in children:

    • “Make sure your child follows good hygiene habits. She should wash her hands frequently and avoid direct contact with the urine of pets and other animals.”
    • “Your child should not play in and around dirty puddles of standing water in the outdoors.”

    Stay safe and healthy.

    This story was updated on November 12, 2020. 

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