Health Care

Indian state battles ‘rat fever outbreak after worst floods in a century

Indian state battles ‘rat fever outbreak after worst floods in a century”

Nearly 200 cases of leptospirosis, a waterborne disease known locally as "rat fever", have been confirmed in Kerala, a health ministry spokesman said. "As more cases have been reported from Kozhikode district, an isolated war-room will be set up in Kozhikode medical college", he said.

The two deceased in Kozhikode district were Anil, 54, of Eranjikal and Narayani, 80, of Vadakara.

The three died of suspected rat fever are Prakashan (43) of Puthanur, Ezhakkad, Mundur, who died in Coimbatore Medical College; Nirmala (50), daughter of Kuttan and Janu of Chempakkara, Ezhakkad of Mundur.

Following the outburst, Kerala Health Minister K.K. Shailaja Teacher called a review meeting at Kozhikode.

Kerala was put on high alert for three weeks now.

Leptospirosis spreads fast during rains and floods as urine of faecal matter of infected rats or any other rodents contaminates water.

The separate death toll from the monsoon floods that forced more than a million people from their homes in Kerala last month has meanwhile risen to 486, the government said. The Minister advised people in the flood-hit areas to take precautions and a course of doxycycline.

The disease can cause jaundice, the coughing up of blood, chest pains, swollen joints and a high temperature - which can be treated with antibiotics or in a hospital in more severe cases.

Doctors said the possibility of contracting leptospirosis, a zoonotic disease that transmits from animals to humans, is high during floods. "There is no need of panic as we can control this outbreak", she told reporters. "We have an adequate supply of the medication at the moment, but we are taking steps to ensure that we do not fall prey to a short supply, since so many people are presenting with symptoms of leptospirosis, we just want to be prepared", a health department official said.

"Any such natural calamity is usually followed by a sudden spike in cases of such diseases". "We have been advising the people to rush to the hospital if they have such symptoms".

If treatment is delayed, rat fever could affect the liver, kidney, lungs and heart, leading to death.

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