Kerala, Sep 03, 2018 : Twelve people have died in Kerala since August, six of them in the last three days, due to the waterborne disease leptospirosis, locally known as ’rat fever’. The disease is not new to the state. Between January and July, Leptospirosis claimed 28 lives. But a spurt in the cases has been observed since the worst floods in a century hit the state on August 8.
Since August, 372 cases have been confirmed and 54 people are suspected to have died due to the waterborne disease in the flood-hit state.
Leptospirosis, a bacterial disease, is transmitted from soil where an infected animal has urinated. The bacteria enters the body through cracks or broken skin on the feet. Normally, it causes headache, muscle pain, jaundice, diarrhoea. Some of the symptoms may be mistaken for other diseases.
"So if left untreated, it can lead to kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death," a doctor said.
The risk of Leptospirosis can be reduced by avoiding soil or water that might be contaminated with animal urine. Else, protective clothing or shoes should be worn.
Health Minister KK Shailaja on Sunday assured the people that there was no need to panic.
The minister advised the people in the affected areas to take precautions. Government hospitals across flood affected areas have started giving people doses of antibiotic doxycycline, as preventive medicine, to avoid the spread of disease.
A maximum number of cases have been reported in Kozhikode, where a special isolation ward has been set up at the Kozhikode Medical College hospital.
In August, the worst monsoon in a century caused damages to the tune of over Rs. 20,000 crore in the southern state. More than 200 people have died since August 8.