Leptospirosis: Avoiding This Deadly Flood-Related Disease
Wondering why people talk about Leptospirosis every time there’s flooding in the Philippines? Check our 8List guide to disease, presented in nifty question-and-answer form:
What is Leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection native to animals that can be transmitted to humans through floodwaters.
Why is Leptospirosis Bad?
If left untreated, Leptospirosis can cause meningitis, liver damage, and renal failure. In short, it can damage your brain, liver, and kidneys.
How Can I Get It?
The disease is passed on when water with animal urine makes contact with open wounds, eyes, lips, or the genitals and the anal area.
How Can I Prevent It?
- Basically, protect yourself from direct contact with floodwater–or anything that you think may have animal urine
- Use waterproof clothing when traveling through floods, such as boots and gloves
- Don’t swim through floodwater!
- Rats are common transmitters of Leptospirosis, so if you see one, terminate with prejudice!
- Keep you house and the surrounding area clean
So Why Does Leptospirosis Make Traveling Through Floods Riskier?
Animals (especially rats) in your area may be infected with Leptospirosis. These animals will freely pee into floodwater, contaminating it with the bacteria that you may come into contact with if you walk or swim through floods.
What are the Symptoms?
The problem with Leptospirosis is that its symptoms are very similar to other diseases. Look for:
- Reddening of the eyes
- Severe headaches
- Urine that’s very yellow in color and low in volume
- Yellow skin
How do I know if Someone Has Leptospirosis?
Aside from the symptoms above, if someone has passed through flood water and has had a fever for two days or longer, he or she should be brought to the nearest hospital or health center for testing. If you need help, check out this list of emergency hotlines and online help resources.