More than a million flood survivors are getting antibiotics to help them resist a deadly bacterial outbreak, one of several diseases menacing crowded evacuation centres, Philippine officials said Sunday.
After tropical storms Ketsana and Parma, which together killed 818 people according to the latest official count, the immediate threat is leptospirosis, caused by exposure to water contaminated with rat urine. The government said the disease has claimed an additional 89 lives.
The health department has declared an outbreak of the bacterial disease in the Marikina section of Manila, one of the areas hardest hit by Ketsana, which flooded 80 percent of the capital on September 26.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque has ordered drugs given to 1.3 million people as added protection against the disease, which if untreated could lead to kidney failure.
Two of the hospital's 68 leptospirosis patients are in serious condition, including one with symptoms of renal failure, Ramos told AFP.
The hospital, which the government said suffered 380 million pesos (8.2 million dollars) in damage from the floods, has converted its lobby into an extra ward to house the leptospirosis cases.
"In ordinary times we would have just one or two cases at a time," she said.
The health department said in a statement that it has vaccinated children for measles in areas affected by the Ketsana floods, and given tetanus toxoid vaccines for all injured victims of the storm.
Tap water supplied to evacuation centres, which still house more than 206,000 people, are being tested and five sites have tested positive for the E. coli bacteria, it said.
Water disinfectants are being supplied to these facilities, it added.
The department said it is also supplying vitamins to children at these centres.
Respiratory tract infections, fevers, skin diseases, infected wounds and diarrhoea are among the most common ailments at the evacuation centres, it added.
Source: AFP Global Edition