DOH: Over 22,000 dengue, nearly 600 leptospirosis cases in January-April

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 20) – Over 22,000 Filipinos were down with dengue and nearly 600 with leptospirosis from January to April, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

The DOH on Friday reported 22,277 dengue cases nationwide from Jan. 1 to April 30. It said 126 resulted in deaths, or a case fatality rate of 0.6%.

The case tally is down by 15% from the same period last year, according to the department, although it noted that the incidence of dengue from March 20 to April 23 were higher year-on-year.

The worst-hit region is Central Visayas with 2,905 dengue cases, or 13% of the total. Central Luzon came second (2,858, or 13%), followed by Metro Manila (2,339, or 10%).

Meanwhile, the DOH said a total of 583 leptospirosis cases were recorded in the first fourth months of the year – the same number last year.

Seventy-seven died, which account for 13.2% of total infections.

Still on a year-on-year comparison, the agency said leptospirosis cases were higher this year during the March 13-April 30 period.

Western Visayas was the most affected with 101 (17%) patients tallied, followed by Metro Manila (76, or 13%), and Cagayan Valley (69, or 12%).

According to the health department, dengue mostly affects young children and infants. The virus is transmitted through a bite of dengue-infected Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, which can lay eggs in any space or container that holds clear and stagnant water.

Symptoms include sudden onset of fever for two to seven days, plus two of the following: headache, body weakness, joint and muscle pains, pain behind the eyes, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and skin rashes.

The DOH urges the public to search and destroy mosquito-breeding sites, wear long pants and long sleeve shirts if possible, use mosquito repellent, and immediately consult a doctor upon manifesting symptoms.

Leptospirosis, meanwhile, is a disease transmitted through mud or water contaminated by the urine of infected animals. The department said it is characterized by fever, headache, chills, muscle pains (myalgia), conjunctival suffusion (red eyes), and less frequently by meningitis, rash, jaundice (yellowish discoloration of the skin and eyes), or kidney failure.

To prevent infection, officials remind the public to avoid swimming or wading in contaminated water or flood water, or to use boots and gloves when exposure is necessary. They also advise the people to maintain a clean home and to control rats by using rat traps or poison.