Science and Environment

Rainy season brings back leptospirosis


The rains are back and with it, the possibility of leptospirosis, a potentially deadly disease. In tropical countries like the Philippines, leptospirosis occurs most frequently during the wet season when there is a greater chance of contact with water contaminated by rat urine or feces carrying leptospira bacteria.

Leptospirosis can be contracted by swallowing contaminated food or water or through skin contact, especially with mucosal surfaces, such as the eyes or nose, or with broken skin.

Even the tiniest cuts, blisters and abrasions on the skin, can serve as points of entry for the leptospira bacterium. It causes a wide range of symptoms which can often be misdiagnosed.

Unless properly diagnosed and treated, leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, and respiratory distress. In rare cases, death may occur.

Bayer, makers of the Racumin rodent control system, promotes awareness of leptospirosis and other rat-borne diseases to encourage communities to become more proactive in controlling rodent pests, thus reducing the risk to public health and safety.

Leptospirosis occurs worldwide but is most common in temperate or tropical climates such as the Philippines where heavy rainfall and flooding have been shown to relate directly to increased incidence of the disease.

The bacterium requires a wet environment in order to live, that is why more cases of the disease are reported in months with heavy rainfall.

The disease is also on the rise among urban children who are more likely to come into contact with leptospira bacteria from playing on rain-drenched city streets where growing numbers of rats defecate and urinate.

Although many different kinds of animals can also carry the bacterium, rats have been tagged as the chief culprit for spreading the disease in urban areas. Rats eat the same food humans do and contaminate 10 times as much food as they eat.

It takes anywhere from two days to four weeks for someone exposed to a contaminated source to become sick. Illness usually begins abruptly with high fever accompanied by severe headache, chills, muscle aches and vomiting. It may also include jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea or a rash.

For patients who do not receive proper treatment in time, it is not unusual to recover for a short period only to experience the second phase of the disease which is more severe and may include meningitis, kidney and liver failure.

Many of these symptoms, especially at the early stages, can be mistaken for other diseases. Fortunately, leptospirosis can be confirmed by laboratory testing of a blood or urine sample so the proper antibiotics can be administered.

The risk of acquiring leptospirosis can be reduced by avoiding contact with water which may have run-off areas contaminated by rat urine or feces. Protective clothing or footwear should be worn when exposed to contaminated water or soil.

Communities can also do their part in preventing outbreaks of leptospirosis by controlling rat and mice population. It takes a committed, continuous effort from the entire community to get rid of these unwanted rodent pests which pose a threat to health and safety.

Each Racumin product contains coumatetralyl which slowly kills rats so they won’t develop “bait shyness” or associate it with danger.

Racumin tracking powder is effective as bait and also doubles as a tracking powder to help identify where rats dwell. Deal with mice as well as rats with hassle-free Racumin ready-made bait made from fragrant rice which cereal-loving rodents find irresistible.

And for utmost convenience, Racumin paste in easy-to-use sachets can be placed wherever and whenever one suspects rats are threatening his home and community.








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