Leptospirosis


After the floods, another problem hits our City. The Department of Health has declared a Leptospirosis outbreak in Marikina.

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Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III today (16 October 2009) during a press conference declared an outbreak of leptospirosis in the barangays of Tumana, Malanday, and Concepcion I in Marikina.

Wikipedia provides the basic information that we need to know about Leptospirosis:

also known as Weil’s disease, Weil’s syndrome, canicola fever, canefield fever, nanukayami fever, 7-day fever, "Fort Bragg fever," and "Pretibial fever" – is a relatively rare bacterial infection in humans which is transmitted to humans by allowing water that has been contaminated by animal urine to come in contact with unhealed breaks in the skin, eyes or with the mucous membranes

Symptoms

Leptospirosis is a biphasic disease that begins with flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, myalgias, intense headache). The first phase resolves, and the patient is briefly asymptomatic until the second phase begins. This is characterized by meningitis, liver damage (causing jaundice), and renal failure; because of the wide range of symptoms the infection is often wrongly diagnosed. This leads to a lower registered number of cases than there really are. Symptoms of leptospirosis include high fever, severe headache, chills, muscle aches, and vomiting, and may include jaundice, red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and/or a rash. The symptoms in humans appear after a 4–14 day incubation period.

Complications

Complications include meningitis, extreme fatigue, hearing loss, respiratory distress, azotemia, and renal interstitial tubular necrosis, which results in renal failure and often liver failure (the severe form of this disease is known as Weil’s disease, though it is sometimes named Weil Syndrome). Cardiovascular problems are also possible.

Treatment (Let doctors give the proper treatment)

Leptospirosis treatment is a relatively complicated process comprising two main components: suppressing the causative agent and fighting possible complications. Aetiotropic drugs are antibiotics, such as cefotaxime, doxycycline, penicillin, ampicillin, and amoxicillin (doxycycline can also be used as a prophylaxis). There are no human vaccines; animal vaccines are only for a few strains, and are only effective for a few months. Human therapeutic dosage of drugs is as follows: doxycycline 100 mg orally every 12 hours for 1 week or penicillin 1–1.5 MU every 4 hours for 1 week. Doxycycline 200–250 mg once a week is administered as a prophylaxis.

More information from Leptospirosis Information Center

Human to Human transmission

An infected human will shed leptospires in their urine for a period both during and after the illness, and so can present a risk of infection to others but only in a specific way. General social interations are prefectly safe, as the bacteria are not airborne. Saliva is not considered a high risk, as the bacteria cannot tolerate the acidity of the human mouth for very long, so although we advise against it the risks from sharing food, cutlery or cups is very small. Items that can dry between uses, such as towels, are also of extremely low risk once they are dry – but handling very wet bedding, blood-soaked clothing or similar can present a risk.

The presence of bacteria in the urine means that leptospirosis is a sexually-transmitted infection, since during intercourse there will be the opportunity for small volumes of urine to exchange between partners. There are several documented cases of human infection via sex, but insufficient data to show if a particular sexual practice is more or less risky (though any event where urine can come into contact with damaged skin is hazardous).

Disinfecting surfaces and materials

Disinfecting surfaces and non-porous materials is extremely simple, as the leptospira bacterium is very sensitive to disinfectants, soaps and many other household chemicals even at low concentrations. Despite the bacteria being extremely dangerous during an infection, they are one of the easiest to control – at least within buildings.

Any non-porous surface that has dried for more than a minute or two will be safe, and will remain so even if it becomes wet again – the bacteria are instantly killed by drying.

Skin cleaning and hand washing

Hand-washing the most important precaution people can take, both for leptospirosis and many other infections. Although the bacteria do not survive for very long on human skin, they can certainly remain viable for long enough to transfer from your hands to your mouth, or into food. Having said that, they are extremely easy to kill!

Stay safe peeps.

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