Rat fever alert issued for rain-ravaged districts

While the leptospirosis outbreak in neighbouring Kerala has unleashed a macabre tale of death, killing more than 50 people, Karnataka has declared red alert in the rain-ravaged districts. AFP file photo for representation.

Battling post-flood and landslide woes across the coastal and Malnad districts, the government on Wednesday issued a high alert against the outbreak of rat fever.

While the leptospirosis outbreak in neighbouring Kerala has unleashed a macabre tale of death, killing more than 50 people, Karnataka has declared red alert in the rain-ravaged districts.

Sources in the Health and Family Welfare department told DH that incidence of rat fever had been reported from Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru, Uttara Kannada and Haveri districts.

“Till July 2018, we registered 136 confirmed cases of rat fever in all these districts, while the figure for 2017 was 475.


DH Infographics

Luckily, unlike last year that witnessed two deaths, no deaths due to the disease have been reported till date,” a senior official overseeing the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) in the state said.

Receding water across these districts has resulted in stagnant water patches on land where people traverse every day, with the possibility of contracting the disease.

“It is primarily a contagious disease spread by leptospira bacteria present in animals. It is spread through infected animals’ urine when it gets mixed with rainwater. Humans with any aberrations or wounds on the body coming in contact with such contaminated water will contract the disease,” a senior official (clinical) of the health department said.

Though human-to-human transmission is said to be rare, patients will from fever, headache, vomiting, abdominal pain, haemorrhagic, pulmonary and renal manifestations, said doctors in the department.

“The department has identified the risk group comprising agricultural labourers, livestock handlers, civic workers, fishermen and masons who often come in contact with contaminated water. Our field staffers have been reaching out to villages to create awareness and urge people to report to the nearest health centres in case of symptoms,” yet another officer said.

In an official statement, the health department clarified, “Treatment to the disease is offered free of cost in all PHCs, taluk and district hospitals. People need not panic and can avail the services at these centres.”

The advisory by the department cautioned people to sanitise living areas from rodent population.

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Rat fever alert issued for rain-ravaged districts

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