Some 60 or more farmers from the eastern Pangasinan town of Rosales were believed to be afflicted with leptospirosis after harvesting and planting rice in Balungao and Umingan towns that may be infected by the infected urine of rats.
Dr. Ma. Anna Theresa De Guzman, provincial health officer, confirmed this big number of farmers who were brought to different private hospitals when they complained of suffering from leptospirosis-like fever.
De Guzman could not however provide additional details as the patients are still undergoing physical examinations now in different government hospitals in eastern Pangasinan.
De Guzman said these farmers were first brought to different hospitals when they were suffering from prolonged fever which they believed to have been contracted by them shortly after coming from Balungao and Umingan from where they were hired to harvest and plant rice.
Uncertain yet whether they were afflicted with leptospirosis in the absence of confirmatory tests, doctors just gave the patients prophylaxis medicines to control their fever.
“It will be officially confirmed if indeed they were afflicted with leptospirosis once their disease history, physical examination and blood test were out,” De Guzman said.
A report reaching the PHO stated that the farmers waded barefoot in the rice fields of Balungao and Umingan that were still under water.
Because the farmers were exposed in the water and all manifested fever, there is a strong suspicion that they were afflicted with leptospirosis, De Guzman said.
The Municipal Health Office (MHO) of Rosales has been mobilized by De Guzman to look for other farmers, in addition to the 60, who may also be suffering from prolonged fever.
De Guzman said she could not yet confirm if the victims had lesions or wounds in their feet where the leptospira bacteria may have gotten through.
De Guzman confirmed that most victims of leptospirosis are farmers, whose work in their farm calls for them to wade in the water.
She confirmed that it is leptospirosis that the PHO is guarding nowadays as the number of victims is still continuously increasing.
To date, the PHO already listed 10 fatalities of leptospirosis in Pangasinan, most of them from Dagupan and Mangaldan, and one each from Labrador, Urbiztondo, Aguilar and Alaminos.
Because of the alarming increase in leptospirosis cases, De Guzman advised Pangasinan townsfolk to wear boots whenever they have to wade in water.