The Jakarta Post, JAKARTA | Tue, 02/10/2009 11:01 AM
During the rainy season, Jakarta residents have to brace for the spread of several water-borne diseases, an official said Monday.
Leptospirosis is one of them.
Jakarta has seen two cases of leptospirosis this year, said Tini Suryanti, the head of the city health agency.
In 2002, during one of the largest floods in Jakarta, 113 patients were infected with leptospira germs according to the agency’s data. Twenty of the patients died.
Tini said there were 184 cases in 2007 and 41 in 2008.
“The leptospira bacteria comes from the urine of rats and is spread by flooding,” she said.
The bacteria easily enters through small wounds, eyes, nose and skin.
The disease can easily spread at temporary shelters for flood victims because of poor hygiene and sanitation, Tini said.
“We have conducted information sessions, educating flood victims on personal and public hygiene to prevent the spread of this disease.”
Wearing closed footwear like boots to wade through floodwater is also recommended.
According to the June 2007 edition of the University of Indonesia’s health journal, Makara, every animal can potentially be infected with the disease.
Water sources require special care to prevent contamination.
The bacteria cannot survive long in salt water, but can live in freshwater for up to a month.
In humans, the incubation period ranges from four to 19 days. Symptoms include fever, headaches, fatigue, vomiting, sore eyes, leg pain and back pain
If the bacteria enters the liver, a patient’s skin will appear yellow. If the bacteria enters the heart, it could trigger sudden death.
If the bacteria attacks the lungs, the patient may cough up blood and experience chest pains.