Baguio rabies-free for 10 years but Leptospirosis is Up at 126%,

Leptospirosis, an infection from rat urine in flood waters, increased to 126%, in the months of July and August, at the onset of the rainy season and most especially during Typhoon Egay.    

This is according to the Health Services Office – City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (HSO- CESU) head Dr. Donabel Tubera-Panes, who ruled the 7 deaths in the city were caused by Leptospirosis. These could have been prevented, Dr. Panes said. 

Termed zoonotic, which are diseases from animals, Leptospirosis is among the 20 illnesses subject to surveillance by the HSO-CESU.       

We refocus on sanitation, search out the rats and the effort should be citywide, she added. The clean-up should be simultaneous for the rats not just to transfer from one area to another, Dr. Panes emphasized.      

Leptospirosis infects humans with flu-like symptoms; yellow skin, kidney failure, and organ failure occurring within two weeks. Usually, consultation would already be too late, Panes said.  

People with repeated exposures to flood waters should have prophylaxis, with antibiotics procured free at the HSO, the lady physician said. 

On the other hand, Baguio has been rabies-free for more than 10 years now, Panes said, with bite victims from other places proceeding to the city’s HSO bite center or hospitals. There is a high awareness and vaccination rate for cats and dogs, thus low case turn-out for Baguio, Panes added.

However, not only stray cats and dogs should be considered in rabies cases, but even rats and pigs. The location of the bite or scratch should be observed; or if it bled from an open wound. The saliva of an infected animal transmits Staphylococcus aureus, which is resistant to microbes or antibiotics. Government health insurance Philhealth could help defray expenses in cases of bites, it was known. 

In animal bite cases, the site should be immediately washed for 10 minutes with running water; no rubbing should be done, and no other medicines or herbs should be used. The local “Tandok” which advertises “a special stone with properties which absorbs rabies poison” should not even be considered, Panes reiterated. 

Dog vaccination is affordable at P20 per shot, while the costly human immunoglobulin is priced according to human weight. 

Panes urged pet owners to be responsible owners, and have their pets vaccinated against rabies. -JGF, with reports from HSO – CESU


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