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MANILA, Philippines -- The Department of Health has asked local government units in flood-affected areas of Metro Manila and Central Luzon to let their health centers stay open during the long weekend to continue treating flood-related diseases such as leptospirosis.
“We’re worried that patients will not be able to find a nearby health facility during the long weekend. We’re appealing to the LGUs to have their health centers open for patients,” Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag told reporters.
Tayag said the DOH expects a number of patients will be seeking consultation, especially those who had been exposed to floodwaters and those still housed in evacuation centers.
“This is the time when the first onset of leptospirosis cases is expected,” Tayag stressed, explaining that the disease, usually contracted from water contaminated with infected rate urine has an incubation period from three to 10 days.
The disease can be fatal when it affects vital organs such as the kidneys.
The DOH fears a spike in leptospirosis cases because thousands of people were forced to wade through floodwaters when torrential rains submerged most of Metro Manila and parts of Central Luzon last week.
Some areas remain flooded till now, sparking fears of outbreaks of other diseases such as dengue.
Explaining why LGUs should keep their health centers open, Tayag said the DOH medical teams dispatched to evacuation centers are only reinforcement personnel.
The department had earlier distributed boxes of the anti-leptospirosis drug doxycycline to local officials to be made available to patients free of charge.
“We can’t do it on our own because you have to be present when the patient takes the medicine,” Tayag said, adding that the DOH has implemented a training moratorium for its staff in Metro Manila and in Regions 3 and 4A to enable them to focus on relief work.
A total of 107 suspected leptospirosis cases have been reported to the DOH as of August 13, with 32 cases being treated at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.
Tayag said 3.6 million people were affected by the floods in six regions.
An estimated 2,500 people have sought consultation in evacuation centers and flooded communities for fever, acute respiratory infection, skin diseases, minor wounds, and diarrhea -- the top five causes of diseases among flood victims.