As of Thursday evening, there have been 57 confirmed deaths due to leptospirosis (rat fever) since early August with one more person succumbing to the disease. 57-year-old Devassy from Piruvanthur succumbed to the infection in Kollam district of Kerala on Thursday.
The state health department expected to see a rise in the number of water-borne diseases (among others), and despite measures to curb the numbers, they are still rising.
It was reported that over 700 people had flocked to hospitals all over Kochi alone, presenting with high grade fever, fearing that there may be something more serious. Of these, around 11 were suspected to have leptospirosis. Leptospirosis, or ‘rat fever,’ has been on the rise following the floods. While officials took measures to ensure that people were given preventive measures, many presenting with fevers allegedly did not take the necessary precautions.
High grade fever which doesn’t respond to medications, myalgia or severe muscle pain, headache, nausea, and vomiting are the commonly seen symptoms in those presenting with leptospirosis. State health department officials are urging people to get a check-up if they exhibit any signs of the infection.
While a few cases of leptospirosis are usually seen and expected around the monsoon season, the devastating floods have contributed to the spike in the number of cases.
Not only government hospitals but private ones too, are seeing people rush in out of fear of having contracted the infection. “Most people haven’t taken any preventive medications,” says Dr Amith, a general physician who works at a private hospital in Kozhikode district.
“The outpatient clinics are running twice as long as usual because of the sheer numbers of people who are coming in now. The beds in the in-patient wards are almost full. So many people have been admitted with fever after giving history of exposure to the flood waters. Many of them are presenting with myalgia. I’m seeing a similar situation at smaller clinics as well. People are queuing up to buy medicines.”
Those suspected to have contracted rat fever are being admitted and further work up being done.