Disease alert as Philippines flood toll jumps to 85

Aug 12, 2012 by Jason Gutierrez

Emergency relief officials and doctors deployed to flood devastated communities in the Philippines Sunday to prevent outbreaks of disease as the death toll jumped to 85.

The flooding that submerged 80 percent of Manila early in the week has largely subsided but more than 150 towns and cities around the capital remain under water, affecting more than three million people.

Amid the ongoing relief operation, the weather bureau warned of a low pressure area developing some 850 kilometres (528 miles) to the east in the Pacific Ocean that could turn into a storm and bring more rain.

Many provinces around Manila remained inundated as overflowing dams continued to release water, the national disaster coordinating agency said.

Relief workers were dealing with "clogged pipelines and trash everywhere. Sanitation has emerged as a key problem," Red Cross secretary general Gwendolyn Pang told AFP.

"We have deployed health officers in evacuation centres and in flood-hit communities with the likelihood of diseases erupting."

The health department said water purification tablets were being distributed, while mass immunisations were being carried out to prevent an outbreak of diseases such as flu.

Of particular concern is a possible outbreak of leptospirosis, caused by exposure to water contaminated by rat urine, which infected 3,300 people and claimed some 250 lives in the aftermath of similar flooding in 2009.

"Many may have escaped the floods, but many could still die from leptospirosis or other diseases," Ramos said.

The Red Cross put up huge rubber bladder tanks for clean water, while local officials sent portable latrines to packed evacuation centres. Food packs were also rushed to some 770,000 people displaced by flooding.

Civil defence chief Benito Ramos said more than half of them were living in dire conditions in 948 evacuation centres -- mostly schools and churches converted into temporary shelter areas.

But in a town north of Manila, at least one family had set up camp on top of elevated tombs at a cemetery as they waited for aid, illustrating the extent of the crisis.

In all, more than three million people in 167 towns and 16 cities were affected by the heavy rains and floods, the disaster agency said.

"Many have returned to their homes as the waters subsided, but it is far from a normal situation," Ramos said.

"We are trying to help them return to their normal lives with a massive clean-up operation. There is muck everywhere, and it would take some time."

Ramos said the death toll rose to 85 on Sunday from 66 the previous day, with most of the casualties due to drowning.

The floods were caused by seasonal southwest monsoon that brought an unusual amount of rainfall over Manila and nearby areas, causing dams and river systems to overflow.

If the new low pressure disturbance develops into a major storm, it would bring more misery, Ramos warned.

Explore further: Study casts doubt on climate benefit of biofuels from corn residue

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

WHO warns of disease risk in flood-hit Thailand

Oct 22, 2011

Thailand's hundreds of thousands of flood victims are at risk of water-borne diseases and infections, the World Health Organisation said Saturday, though no major outbreaks have been reported yet.

Bacterial disease outbreak threatens metro Detroit animals

Oct 28, 2011

More than 20 cases of the life-threatening bacterial infection leptospirosis have been reported in Detroit-area dogs in the past three weeks, according to Michigan State University’s Diagnostic Center for Population ...

Recommended for you

US delays decision on Keystone pipeline project

Apr 18, 2014

The United States announced Friday a fresh delay on a final decision regarding a controversial Canada to US oil pipeline, saying more time was needed to carry out a review.

New research on Earth's carbon budget

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Results from a research project involving scientists from the Desert Research Institute have generated new findings surrounding some of the unknowns of changes in climate and the degree to which ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

SatanLover
1 / 5 (2) Aug 13, 2012
mass immunization or massive murder?
ryggesogn2
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 13, 2012
Compare and contrast Manila with Singapore.
The only significant difference is their political culture.
Until the Philippines sheds its Spanish inspired corruption, and socialist tendencies, not much will change.

More news stories

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

Easter morning delivery for space station

Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via the SpaceX company's Dragon cargo capsule.