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Philippines At Risk For Rapid Spread Of Disease After Typhoons

“Survivors of two powerful storms that caused widespread destruction in the Philippines in recent weeks are threatened by outbreaks of potentially life-threatening diseases, as the country braces for another super-typhoon,” named Lupit, that is expected to make landfall on Thursday, the Guardian reports. “Charity workers say disease and poor sanitation could afflict large numbers of people, many of whom are still waiting for medical and other supplies from the government and international aid organizations,” the newspaper writes.

In addition to dengue and cholera, “[h]ealth officials say that as many as 1.7 million people living in and around Manila risk exposure to leptospirosis, a waterborne disease … that can be contracted by wading through floodwater.” According to the National Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, more than 1,300 people have contracted the disease.

“Most people are getting some clean water, but the problem is that people are using the standing water as a toilet and children are swimming through it,” Sean Keogh, emergency health assessor for Merlin, a UK-based medical relief agency, explained. “All these things are coming together. There’s another storm coming, there’s standing water, endemic disease and people walking through the water, which has all sorts in – petrol, human waste – it’s a complete mess. This is a communicable disease disaster in the making” (McCurry, 10/19).

VOA News reports on the number of cases of “acute watery diarrhea, acute respiratory infections and pneumonia,” since Typhoons Ketsana and Parma hit in late-September and early-October (Schlein, 10/16).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.