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Leptospirosis in Philippines

05 Jan 2012

An outbreak of leptospirosis has been reported from northern Mindanao. This follows the recent displacement of thousands of people affected by Typhoon Washi last month.

The health authorities report that 128 cases of leptospirosis have been confirmed with a further 200 suspected cases. The Philippine Red Cross has deployed health staff, volunteers, health education material and antibiotics in an effort to limit the outbreak.

Many displaced persons remain without adequate shelter and have limited access to clean water and basic sanitation.

Advice for Travellers

Leptospirosis is caused by contact with fresh water, wet soil, or vegetation that has been contaminated by urine of animals that are chronically infected. The infection is transmitted through unhealed breaks in the skin, the eyes, or the mucous membranes. Rats, dogs, cattle, and pigs are the usual reservoirs for this organism.

Leptospirosis occurs worldwide and frequently follows flooding after heavy rains. Travellers should avoid contact with flood water.