Leptospirosis cases spiral as monsoons wreak havoc in Mumbai

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

Adequate precautions including cleanliness and hygiene imperative during this season

New Delhi, 22 July 2018: About four people have died of Leptospirosis in Mumbai as heavy rains continue to hit the city, the most recent one being a 17-year-old boy. The insecticide department has treated 17 rat burrows with pesticides as rats are the common carriers of this disease. After the heavy showers, more focus is being given to low-lying areas, which floods fast. Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals. It is caused by bacteria of the genus *Leptospira*. It spreads through the urine of infected animals, which can get into water or soil and can survive there for weeks to months. Leptospirosis can cause a wide range of symptoms, some of which may be mistaken for other diseases.

Speaking about this,Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI*, said, “Excess rain and the resultant flooding helps in facilitating the spread of the organism due to increase in the number of rodents. These shed large amounts of leptospires in their urine which mix with the flooded water. The bacteria can enter the body through skin or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth), especially if the skin is broken from a cut or scratch. Drinking contaminated water can also cause infection. Without treatment, Leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death.

Some symptoms of Leptospirosis include high fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, vomiting, jaundice, red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rash. The time between a person’s exposure to a contaminated source and becoming sick is 2 days to 4 weeks.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “The disease is diagnosed based on the patient’s history and physical examination. Patients with severe symptoms are diagnosed by proper medical tests. Early stage leptospirosis is difficult to diagnose as the symptoms resemble those of flu and other common infections. Leptospirosis can be treated with specific antibiotics as prescribed by the physician.

Some tips from HCFI

- Do not wade in dirty water
- Cover any injuries properly. Opt for closed shoes and socks. This is more so in the case of those living with diabetes.
- Clean your feet well and dry them with a soft cotton towel. Leaving feet wet can lead to fungal infections as well.

- Vaccinate your pet animals at the earliest as they could be potential carriers of the infection.

- People who travel to areas with high risk of leptospirosis, should avoid swimming in fresh water ponds, drink only sealed water, clean and cover any open wounds.