On December 17, 2011, tropical storm Washi hit Misamis Oriental province’s capital city Cagayan de Oro on the Philippine island of Mindanao. The storm and flooding that followed it resulted in the deaths of 1,257 people and the displacement of over 300,000 more. Amidst the chaos of the storm and evacuation, Filipino citizens were struck by yet another ordeal: outbreak. A waterborne disease was spreading through the population due to the crowding from displacement, poor sanitation, and lack of clean water. People were getting sick and even dying, and with more rainy conditions on the way, the outbreak was set to get worse before it got better. The culprit behind the Philippine citizens’ extra misfortune was the bacterial disease Leptospirosis (Huston, 2012).
Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease caused by bacterial species found within the genus Leptospira. Historically, leptospires have been classified into two species, pathogenic L. interrogans and non-pathogenic L. biflexa. According to current genetic classification using 16S rRNA genes, there are at least 19 species of leptospires that cluster into three groups: pathogenic, saprophytic and intermediate. L. interrogans, L. borgpetersenii, L. santarosai, L. noguchii, L. weilli, L. kirschneri and L. alexanderi are the seven species considered to be the major agents of leptospirosis. Leptospires are thin, helically coiled spirochetes that are between 6 and 20 μm long with bent ends that form a characteristic hook shape. The cell walls of leptospires are considered Gram-negative due to their double membrane and presence of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), however, the cytoplasmic membrane is closely associated with the murein cell wall, resembling Gram-positive cell envelopes (Coburn & ...
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