Misery and illness continue through ‘rat fever’ in Philippines

By October 27, 2009

Philippines (MNN) — The
Philippines breathed a sigh of relief on Saturday as typhoon Lupit spared them
over the weekend. Their attention
returned to dealing with the crisis at hand: "rat fever."

State-run hospitals have been overwhelmed by an
outbreak of leptospirosis–a bacterial disease spread from the urine of
infected rats and other animals which has contaminated flood waters from two previous storms.

Toribio with Food For The Hungry (FH) says, "When they submerged
their feet under the flood water, it was contaminated, so there had been
leptospirosis in those areas that had been flooded."

Since the first case appeared a week
after the storm, the numbers of people falling ill have been staggering. FH medical mission teams are partnering with
hospitals, some of which were damaged in the flooding.   

Stemming new infections is
critical to stopping a full-blown epidemic. FH teams are literally hands and
feet. "We were able to receive
medical health kits, and the hospitals are the ones distributing these through
the medical missions."

Starvation threatens, too. Crop
damage from the flooding across Southeast Asia has been so extensive that
hunger and disease threaten many families.

The ministry has the
infrastructure to distribute, monitor and re-cycle recovery loans to the most
vulnerable and needy people while bolstering well-trained churches who are
already responding.

Through these partnerships, FH teams can meet basic needs
providing food, water, blankets, cooking sets, and sanitation kits. They are also helping to restore access to clean drinking
water and sanitation systems that may have been destroyed or interrupted.

FH also looks ahead to agricultural
rehabilitation, which helps farmers rebuild their capacity to
provide for their family and community through seed and tool distributions and

Once the physical threat
subsides, their teams will provide
emotional and spiritual support to those who have been traumatized by suffering
and loss.

Toribio says the survivors are
desperate for hope. "It's really an opportunity, because people are more
receptive and more appreciative of our presence. It's always a
door for them to hear the Gospel."

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