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Bangalore: Even as the incidences of dengue and chikungunya are yet to subside, Bangalore hospitals are now recording cases of leptospirosis, a bacterial disease commonly known as rat fever. So far, some 40 cases have been reported this month.
While 30 suspected cases of leptospirosis were treated as outpatients in the State-run Victoria Hospital, eight cases tested positive between November 1 and 21 in the city. These included five at the M.S. Ramaiah Hospital and three in Victoria. One of the Victoria Hospital cases was fatal. A private clinic in Vijayanagar reported three cases.What is leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is caused when the skin comes in contact with dirty water, wet soil or vegetation that has been contaminated with the urine of infected animals, especially rodents.
The urine contains bacteria that can live for a long time in fresh water, damp soil, vegetation, and mud, and enters the human body through small skin abrasions. Commonly found to affect the poor in slums, the incidence is higher after rains as flooding and water-logging help spread the bacteria in the environment.
G.T. Subhas, Dean and Director of the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, according to whom, several cases were treated at the Victoria Hospital, said initial symptoms were similar to a number of other diseases, including jaundice.
“Three cases tested positive in Victoria Hospital from November 1 to November 21, and last month one person with provisional symptoms of the disease died. It can turn fatal if the patient does not get timely treatment,” he said.
The infection that usually starts with fever, body pain and sore throat in the first week, turns into jaundice by the second week.
If left untreated, it could even affect the kidneys causing hepato-renal disease, Dr. Subhas said.
K.R. Raveendra, Assistant Professor at the Department of Medicine, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, said he had seen at least 30 clinical cases and treated them as outpatients in the last 20 days.
“The changing climatic conditions and post-monsoon weather are conducive for rodents to come out of their habitat. In the absence of pest control measures by civic authorities, several people from slums and low-lying areas are infected with the bacteria,” he said.
R. Janardhan, a consultant physician at a private nursing home in Vijaynagar, said he had treated three persons with similar symptoms last month.
“As a wrong diagnosis can prove fatal, we usually test patients with mild jaundice for leptospirosis also,” he said. T. Anil Kumar, Professor of Medicine at M.S. Ramaiah Hospital, where two of the five positive cases were treated as inpatients, said those admitted were migrant workers from slums.
“One was discharged only last week. After an incubation period of two to 17 days, a paranormal phase commences which is marked by fever, headache, myalgia and arthralgia. Leptospirosis can be treated as any other disease if diagnosed in time. Otherwise, it can even lead to renal failure and internal bleeding, resulting in leptospiro ictero haemorrhagica,” he said.‘Not an outbreak’
Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Chief Health Officer L.T. Gayatri said there was no need to panic as it was not an outbreak. “One person treated for leptospirosis had applied for medical reimbursement from the BBMP’s medical fund. We will take up pest control measures if we know the specific areas from where the cases have been reported,” she added.
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