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Leptospirosis hits 91 disaster area residents

Leptospirosis hits 91 disaster area residents
Leptospirosis hits 91 disaster area residents

Amid concerns over contagious diseases affecting the typhoon disaster areas, 91 residents of Wandan in Pingtung County were diagnosed with leptospirosis, reports said yesterday.
The disease is usually transmitted to humans by water contaminated with animal urine coming into contact with wounds or eyes, and is relatively rare in humans. Early symptoms of the bacterial infection are similar to flu, but can turn to jaundice and diarrhea.
The first signs of fever in Wandan's Wannei Village appeared on Aug. 17, causing fears that the A(H1N1) swine flu virus had reached the typhoon disaster area. By Aug. 24, more than 100 residents complained about high fever. A total of 54 were in hospital yesterday.
Because the incubation period for leptospirosis is ten days, the outbreak had already reached its climax over the previous days, local health authorities said.
Millions of chickens and pigs died in the typhoon, while rescue workers are still hard at work looking for bodies and removing the rubble. Cable stations showed pigs running loose on the streets and inside abandoned homes in Wannei.
Kaohsiung City and County both denied cholera had broken out in their area. Two residents were tested for cholera on Aug. 16, but the tests came out negative on Aug. 22. The two patients returned home, the authorities said.
Premier Liu Chao-shiuan yesterday suggested evacuating more residents to speed up the cleanup. Liu was referring to Linpien Township in Pingtung County, where military and civilian cleaners have struggled for more than two weeks to drain all the water and remove the mud from streets and homes.
Liu's proposals met with a lukewarm reception from Linpien residents, cable stations reported.
President Ma Ying-jeou promised the operation would be completed by Saturday.
Circumstances in the disaster areas facilitated the outbreak of contagious diseases, as hundreds of people were living close together in dormitories with limited hygienic facilities, reports said.
In addition, there were frequent visits by rescue workers, military personnel and reporters which could bring in diseases from outside the area.
An extra problem in some areas has been the presence of wood from trees uprooted by the floods. The trunks and branches have been blocking harbors, affecting the livelihood of local fishermen. In some areas, conflicts have broken out about the ownership of the wood between the government and local timber traders.


Updated : 2021-07-28 02:42 GMT+08:00