Published: Wed, September 05, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

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

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

The five districts are Kozhikode, Palakkad, Thrissur, Malappuram and Ernakulam from where the most cases have been reported.

The surge in cases comes after torrential rain beginning on August 8 flooded nearly the entire state, killing hundreds of people, destroying thousands of homes and causing at least 200 billion rupees ($2.81 billion) worth of damage.

Leptospirosis, or rat fever caused by bacteria transmission from rodents to human beings.

At the state assembly on Thursday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the economic losses from the deluge would exceed $3.73bn.

More than a million people were forced from their homes last month as the rains unleashed devastating flooding and landslides, cutting off villages and forcing dams to be opened. At least 66 people have died in the state since August 22 due to the bacterial infection that spreads through the urine of dogs, rodents, and farm animals....

But with so many people displaced, leptospirosis has killed six people and infected more than 100 in Kerala, while other diseases have left eight dead. Enough stock of the medicine was available in all health centres and government hospitals in the State, she said. However, authorities have been fearing an outbreak of disease among more than 200,000 people who crammed into relief camps.

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The maximum number of cases have come from Kozhikode.

Those engaged in cleaning operations should take the prescribed dose of Doxycyclin, she said adding people should not go for self-medication if they catch fever. Its symptoms include muscle pain and fever.

"After the floods, we were expecting to see water-borne diseases like cholera, typhoid, diarrhoea, hepatitis and rat fever", Dr Iqbal Babukunju, a senior government health official, told BBC Hindi's Imran Qureshi.

A woman on Sunday became the latest victim of leptospirosis in the flood-battered Kerala, taking the death toll due to the rat fever outbreak to 15 even as Health Minister K.K. Shailaja assured that there was no need to panic.

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

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