Deadly 'rat fever' strikes Kerala after worst floods in a century

A Relief Camp in Aranmula  File

A Relief Camp in Aranmula File

Two persons died of leptospirosis (rat fever) Monday, one each at Palakkad and Kozhikode, according to the Directorate of Health Services.

"Rat fever" and other diseases have killed 14 people in the southern Indian state of Kerala after the worst floods in nearly a century, authorities said Tuesday.

Early symptoms of leptospirosis such as high fever, muscle ache, vomiting, red eyes and chills are similar to those of other diseases, making it hard for health workers to diagnose.

Health Minister K.K. Shailaja told reporters the health ministry were distributing preventive medicine and warned of other waterborne diseases such as typhoid and cholera.

A total of 71 people tested positive for rat fever in various hospitals in the state while 123 people approached hospitals with suspected symptoms of the disease. The chances of humans contracting this fever are especially high after floods since people come in contact with the water which is contaminated by the urine of rodents and rats which are infected.

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Symptoms include fever, nausea, muscle aches, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

Additional Chief Secretary Rajeev Sadanand had also told TNM earlier that a number of cases coming in now were likely to be due to the fact that many people had not taken the precautionary measures and urged for those who had not yet taken doxycycline to do so. However, due to the surge in demand, officials are racing against time to ensure that there is an adequate supply, as reported by The News Minute.

Meanwhile, Shailaja held an emergency meeting with officials at Kozhikode at 3 pm today to chalk out a detailed action plan to curb further transmission of the disease.

With Kozhikode reporting the maximum number of cases, a special isolation ward has been opened at the Kozhikode Medical College and Hospital. More medical camps would be set up at the community health care centres in Kozikhode where preventive care medication would be distributed.

Two other people - identified as Raja, 48, from Aluva in Ernakulam district and Santosh, 42, from Angadippuram in Malappuram district, died of fever. Fearing the outbreak of dengue in the upcoming days, the minister has also directed local self-governing bodies to eliminate the breeding spots and remove waste as well.

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