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Eight dead in outbreak in Philippine flood area

An outbreak of a deadly water-borne disease has claimed at least eight lives in the flood-stricken areas of the southern Philippines, officials said today.

world Updated: Jan 06, 2012 07:55 IST

An outbreak of a deadly water-borne disease has claimed at least eight lives in the flood-stricken areas of the southern Philippines, officials said on Friday.

The health department said that there were almost 300 cases of leptospirosis recorded so far in areas that were inundated by floods brought by tropical storm Washi last month.

"These people had a history of wading in flooded areas. Now government hospitals are full, they are overloaded already," said regional health department director, Joselina Llacuna.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease often spread by infected rat urine mixing in fresh water in tropical environments.

Five people died from the illness in the southern port city of Cagayan de Oro, the department said while three others died in nearby Iligan City, said the city government spokesman Melvin Anggot.

"Two of them drank flood water while the other one was helping," in relief operations, said Anggot.

The government had previously warned of a possible leptospirosis outbreak, especially in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro which were the hardest-hit by floods brought by storm Washi.

Regional epidemiology chief Dr David Mendoza said that enough medicines were provided to ward off the disease but not enough people took the proper precautions.

Heavy rains brought by the storm caused flash floods and overflowing rivers that swept away entire villages built on sandbars and riverbanks.

Almost 1,260 people have been confirmed dead in the flood and over 429,000 were displaced, with about 37,300 people still huddled in overcrowded evacuation centres more than two weeks later, the civil defence office said.