You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Pneumonia is new threat to storm-battered Philippines

A Typhoon Haiyan survivor comforted her child as she waited to board her evacuation flight at the airport in Tacloban, Philippines, on Friday.

Dita Alangkara/Associated Press

A Typhoon Haiyan survivor comforted her child as she waited to board her evacuation flight at the airport in Tacloban, Philippines, on Friday.

TACLOBAN, Philippines — Two weeks after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the east-central Philippines, a new problem has emerged: pneumonia.

Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their homes and are living under tarpaulins and in makeshift huts across Leyte Island and nearby islands. These simple structures are proving no match for torrential rain and a rapid alternation of chilly breezes and sweltering heat.

Continue reading below

Three Philippines Department of Health officials said in separate interviews Friday that acute respiratory infections, including pneumonia, were the biggest single public health problem to emerge since the typhoon.

Concerns about pneumonia came as the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, a Philippines government agency, said the death toll had reached 5,209 by Friday evening.

The agency uses a conservative figure for deaths that relies on bodies being found and logged by officials.

At a meeting on Friday, where representatives of several dozen domestic and foreign medical groups described the latest health concerns, most were acute respiratory infections, said Dr. Jim Bernadas, the acting chief typhoon health incident officer for Leyte Island, the island in the archipelago that suffered most of the casualties.

He attributed the respiratory infections to the widespread lack of shelter, saying more tents were needed from international donors.

The department plans to compile on Saturday detailed information on the number of acute respiratory infections that have been diagnosed and officially reported to authorities, Health Department officials said.

Dr. Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the US Agency for International Development, said in a telephone interview from Washington on Friday that the US government was concerned about reports of pneumonia in typhoon-affected areas.

The agency estimates that 1.1 million homes were damaged or destroyed by the typhoon.

Shah said better shelter, nutrition, and clean water were crucial to preventing a further spread of acute respiratory infections in the upcoming months.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.