Kerala floods have caused a havoc in kerala washing out villages and towns and post the floods the fear of epidemics is hovering already. Nipah the deadly virus had taken as may has over two dozen lives some months back and now it’s another fever called the rat fever of leptospirosis that has been causing deaths in Gods own country.
Last month a total number of deaths registered in Kozhikode has risen to 17 due to leptospirosis of which 6 have been confirmed and rest are suspected to be due to rat fever. To avoid further spread and even as an immediate measure, 85 bed isolation ward is setup in Kozhikode general hospital as well as government hospitals in Koyilandy, Vadakara and Feroke. Meanwhile low lying Alappuzha and three north-central districts reported a total of nine casualties due to rat fever.
The rat fever attacked as many as over 559 people across the state last month already of which 229 were confirmed cases of Leptospirosis.
Here’s a look into the condition, its causes, symptoms, treatment and preventive measures.
Leptospirosis is a condition caused due to a rare bacterial infection caused by a bacteria called Leptospira interrogans and spreads through the urine of animals like rodents, dogs as well as farm stock. These animals never show any symptoms but act as carriers while the organism resides in their kidneys. Although it is not a life threatening disease like Nipah most of the times, there is a possibility of severe leptospirosis which can lead to a fever that returns. When the fever returns, the condition is called Weil’s disease and requires hospitalization because it can have serious symptoms like chest pain, legs and swollen arms.
You can easily contract the bacteria if you are anywhere near to the place where the carrier animal has peed as the germs can invade the body through the scratches, dry areas and open wounds besides genitals, nose or mouth. Human to human infection can only spread to intercourse or breastfeeding.
So, if you are even around animals a lot then you are at high risk of it. Hence, people like veterinarians, underground or sewer workers, farmers, military persons and veterinarians are at high risk of contracting the bacteria. People who are into adventure activities like rafting, camping or swimming.
The symptoms may include fever that can spike up to 104 degrees besides Muscle ache, Headache, Vomiting, Jaundice, Skin Rash and even jaundice.
The doctor will recommend a blood test and check for antibodies in the blood. Your body will produce antibodies to fight this bacteria but if you have had this condition before, it can give a false positive report. Hence, another test needs to be done for confirmation purpose after one week. The doctor could also advise you to go for a DNA test to be more precise, but it can get expensive to go for this test.
Treatment and Prevention
The treatment course runs across a period of one week where the doctor could prescribe ibuprofen tab for fever and muscle pain besides antibiotics like doxycycline and penicillin. A more serious condition like meningitis, lung issues and kidney failure might require you to get admitted immediately.
As they say prevention is always better, to avoid getting into this mess called Leptospirosis, stay away from domestic animals, live-stock and wild rats.