One more succumbs to rat fever in Kerala: Death toll 42, 1006 cases confirmed

As of Tuesday evening, the death toll due to the infection has risen to 42.
One more succumbs to rat fever in Kerala: Death toll 42, 1006 cases confirmed
One more succumbs to rat fever in Kerala: Death toll 42, 1006 cases confirmed

The state of Kerala has been battling an outbreak of leptospirosis, or rat fever, following the devastating floods in August. On Tuesday, 27-year-old Shibin from Malappuram succumbed to the infection taking the total number of confirmed deaths due to leptospirosis to 42. As of Tuesday, 1,006 cases of the fever have been confirmed since August 1, while 1,913 suspected cases have been reported.

“Today in Kozhikode we have seen 57 new suspected cases, totally we now have 239 suspected cases of the fever,” said Kozhikode District Medical Officer (DMO) Dr Jayashree. “Many people who are presenting with symptoms of the fever are giving us a history of not having taken doxycycline tablet as a preventive measure, as we had advised to all following the floods, this could be the reason we are seeing such a high number of cases also,” she said.

Earlier, it was being reported that there was a shortage of doxycycline which was causing many to panic. Quashing these reports, officials from the state Health Department have confirmed that there is no need to worry about this at present. “We have an adequate supply of the medication at the moment, but we are taking steps to ensure that we do not fall prey to a short supply, since so many people are presenting with symptoms of leptospirosis, we just want to be prepared,” a health department official said.

Roughly one lakh tablets were dropped off at Kozhikode from Ernakulam after doctors began worrying they would not have enough medication to cover everyone.

“The doxycycline is given to us by the Kerala Medical Service Corporation, as of now, they have enough stock to manage, but we have reached out to those who can possibly provide us with more so that there does not end up being a lack of medicines,” Dr Jayashree told TNM.

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.

Doxycycline is only effective before the onset of symptoms of the fever and has no impact when taken after the fever presents.

People presenting with symptoms exhibit high grade fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and intense muscle pain. Those found to be positive for leptospirosis are given penicillin, unless they are allergic to the same in which case alternative medications are given.

Health Department officials have also asked people working in certain sectors, such as sanitation workers and dairy farmers, to take extra precautions as they have a higher risk of being exposed to the bacteria and contracting the infection.

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