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Lepto outbreaks declared in 6 Pangasinan, La Union towns

October 28, 2009 6:48pm

The Department of Health is now on heightened alert as it declared outbreaks of leptospirosis in three towns in Pangasinan and three more in La Union on Wednesday.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that as of October 27, there were a total of 2,172 individuals infected with leptospirosis, while 167 have died from the disease.

“This is a heightened alert because the number of leptospirosis has tripled compared to the number of cases last year – 860 cases from January to end October. This is really an abnormal situation where you have a substantial increase in leptospirosis cases," he said.

Duque said the towns affected by leptospirosis outbreaks are Rosales, Mangaldan and Binmaley in Pangasinan, and Bauang, Aringay, and Naguilian in La Union. Several areas in the two provinces were heavily flooded when Typhoon Pepeng hit northern Luzon in early October.

Health experts have been sent to the affected areas to contain the outbreak, Duque said.

As explained earlier by Dr. Yolanda Oliveros, director of the National Center for Disease Prevention and Control (NCDPC), there is an outbreak when the number of cases for a particular area becomes higher than the average number of cases for the last five years. [See: DOH: Leptospirosis spiking in Metro Manila, kills 89]

According to Duque, the outbreak of leptospirosis in Marikina City "has passed already." The city, along with other parts of Metro Manila, was flooded in late September due to Tropical Storm Pepeng.

Despite this, Duque said, “We are heightening our surveillance system for leptospirosis and dengue all-year round and other diseases that put our people at risk especially where there is lack of sanitation and potable water."

On Tuesday, Duque visited Muntinlupa Elementary School in Muntinlupa, which serves as evacuation center for those displaced by Ondoy. He also visited Barangay dela Paz in Biñan, Laguna, another affected area.

Duque was accompanied by World Health Organization (WHO) regional director for Western Pacific Dr. Shin Young-soo and WHO country representative Dr. Soe Nyunt-u. The international organization had earlier sent a four-person team composed of experts in leptospirosis control, epidemiology and clinical management to assist the DOH in investigating the surge in leptospirosis cases in the Philippines.

“We are working in solidarity with Philippine government and Filipino people in this difficult time. But what I have found is the unique character of the Filipino people, they are never defeated and they always smile. I am sure in the future they will recover in this situation," Shin said. - GMANews.TV
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