Scientists hope to bank on local vaccine as leptospirosis cases hit 5-year high in

Dr Villanueva added that labourers who serve as primary breadwinners in Filipino households are especially at risk, as they are often outdoors. For them, getting infected could mean losing their primary income source while they recover from the disease.

“It’s not just a health problem but also an economic burden to those affected families,” she said.

Scientists like her are lobbying for leptospirosis to be included in the World Health Organization’s list of neglected tropical diseases to raise awareness and funding in combatting the disease.

Dr Gloriani said that if the disease was prevalent among privileged groups, sourcing funding for vaccine development would be much easier.

Japan was able to bring down leptospirosis fatalities through vaccination targeting at-risk populations, Dr Villanueva added.


Leptospirosis can cause a wide range of symptoms like fever, headache, chills and muscle pains, which are similar to those of regular colds and flu, making detection difficult.

However, if left untreated, it is potentially life-threatening and can lead to kidney damage, liver failure, and even death.

Among those suffering from the disease is grade-12 student Cyrus Lescano, who was diagnosed with severe leptospirosis two months ago. He later faced complications in his lungs and kidneys.

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