Hospitals on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines are on alert for cases of leptospirosis, a bacterial disease spread by rodents, following tropical storm Washi.

According to local health care authorities, reports 314 cases and 8 deaths in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan in the archipelago. The Washi storm hit about a million people, and more than 1,250 died and 100 are still missing. In addition, 38 000 people have taken shelter in 54 evacuation centers in the area.

About 80% of reported cases of leptospirosis on the island of Mindanao were among males, median age of 26, who had been working in clean-up details and thus  exposed to polluted water. Residents who had not taken shelter in the evacuation centers were particularly vulnerable and cannot be given medication or treatment.

However, despite the outbreak, the levels of leptospirosis are still nowhere near those reported during Typhoon Ketsana in 2009, when there were more than 2 000 cases and 167 deaths reported deaths. According to the Emerging Health Threats for the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), the alarm remains high.

The accumulated mud is still a potential source of infection. It may contain bacteria from the carcasses of rodents or their feces and urine which remain in the soil. In addition, the clearing of some areas will remain difficult until the water service is resumed, seriously damaged, in the two cities. Currently only a few pipelines are partially functional. The health department has distributed rapid diagnosis kits to test early symptoms of the disease. 



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