A volunteer from Coimbatore, who helped with flood relief work in neighbouring Kerala, died due to rat fever on Thursday. Another person has also been diagnosed with leptospirosis or rat fever and is undergoing treatment at the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital (CMCH). Following the two cases, Coimbatore district has been put on high alert.
Twenty-nine-year-old Sathish Kumar had carried out relief work in Kozhikode and had returned to his home in Kinathukadavu near Coimbatore with fever. While he was admitted to the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital on Wednesday, Sathish had been undergoing treatment for high fever at a private hospital in Coimbatore for five days before being referred to CMCH. On arrival, he was diagnosed with rat fever and was given treatment accordingly. He, however, died on Thursday due to multiple organ failure.
Speaking to TNM, Dr Asokan, the Dean of CMCH said that Sathish Kumar was referred to Coimbatore Medical College Hospital by a private hospital after he reached a critical stage due to fever.
â€śHis organs were almost gone when he came here. We did our best to tackle the rat fever but we lost him to organ failure,â€ť he said.
Another man, 65-year-old Ponnaiah from Valparai was also diagnosed with rat fever and is undergoing treatment in the hospital.
Dr Asokan also advised people to watch out for stagnant water and to wear rubber boots and gloves while working in unsanitary conditions.
â€śRat fever or leptospirosis spreads through the urine of rats and cattle. Hence it is important to safeguard ourselves from being exposed to the excrement of animals. If you have a fever, please come and get treated here. We have enough stock of medicines to treat rat fever and have sensitised the doctors and other medical staff here about the diagnosis and treatment of rat fever,â€ť he added.
Dr Banumathy, the Joint Director of Health Services, Coimbatore district suggested people to approach any government medical facility or a qualified doctor if they have high fever together with redness of the eyes.
â€śWe have advised the doctors to keep leptospirosis in mind when patients present themselves with these symptoms. Also, we request the patients to not self-treat with fever medicines without consulting a doctor. It is a bacterial infection and hence there is no need to panic,â€ť she said.
Stressing on the importance of preventing the infection, she said that ensuring sanitation in and around the house and simple measures like using a mix of bleaching powder and lime in the ratio of 1:4 and drinking boiled water will help.
Adding that the district administration is equipped to deal with the situation if it becomes severe, she said, â€śWe have stepped up surveillance in all the 18 villages that is on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. We have also alerted all the Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) in the district to watch out for rat fever.â€ť
47 people have died due to rat fever in Kerala from August 1. Since Coimbatore is on the border, a high alert has been issued across the district to treat cases of rat fever.