Flood-hit Kerala sounds alert for leptospirosis, 28 deaths reported

At least nine deaths and more than 300 suspected cases of leptospirosis were reported in the last one week.
Flood-battered Kerala has sounded a high alert for leptospirosis (rat fever) after the water-borne disease claimed 28 lives in a month, with at least nine coming in the last one week.

The state health department has sounded an alert and sought more medicines from the Union health ministry.

The possibility of contracting rat fever, a zoonotic disease (that transmits from animals to humans), is high during flooding as urine from infected rat or other rodents can contaminate water and pass on to human beings easily, according to experts, who added that the aged and those suffering from kidney or liver ailments were the easy targets. Its symptoms include high fever, headache, chills, abdominal pain and rashes.

Three relief workers were among the dead. At least 300 suspected cases were reported from the state in the last three days, said a senior health official.

The state health directorate has issued a leptospirosis alert for five districts, including Kozhikode and advised affected people to avoid self-treatment.

Many suspected cases are being reported from Kozhikode, Palakkad, Thrissur, Malappuram and Ernakulam districts, said a senior health official, adding that 28 deaths were reported since August 1.

Kozhikode district, which is yet to recover from nipah shock, reported at least 60 people with symptoms of leptospirosis, of which 28 were later confirmed.

At least 17 persons were killed in the nipah outbreak in June but later it was localized to two districts including Kozhikode.

“During monsoon, some cases usually crop up, but this time, there is a spurt in leptospirosis cases. Out of 60 people who complained of symptoms, 28 were confirmed,” said Kozhikode district medical officer Dr V Jayasree.

Worried health officials have asked people in flood-hit areas and those engaged in cleaning work to take two 100 mg doxycyline tablets after food twice a week.

In Kozhikode, excise minister T P Ramakrishnan popped a doxycyline tablet on Saturday after a press conference, urging people to take enough precautions.

“We are keeping utmost vigil. All flood-hit people and relief workers have been advised to take enough precautions. The Union health ministry has promised us all help,” said state health minister K K Shailaja.

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