Beware of Rat Fever– Epidemiology Unit
By Dilanthi Jayamanne
People living in areas affected by the floods should beware of leptospirosis, better known as rat fever, the Epidemiology Unit cautioned. Sources from the Unit said there was a danger of the present flood conditions contributing towards an increase in the number of leptospirosis cases.
Not only those affected by the floods, but also rescue workers too are prone to the infection once they expose themselves to the flood waters, which would increase the risk of them contracting the bacterial infection which spreads from rat urine. According to the Epidemiology Unit, there were 2,760 cases of leptospirosis recorded in the country.
The highest number of cases from January till date were recorded in the months of March and April, where 797 and 725 were reported respectively. The number could increase even further if people got into the flood waters or played in it unnecessarily, as water would be contaminated with animal urine, including that of rats and other carriers of the bacterial infection. Anyone who suffers from fever, headache, muscle pain, vomiting and abdominal pain especially in these areas should seek urgent medical attention.
Sources said the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) had also been advised to provide Doxycycline, an antibiotic to all those who had been severely exposed in the floods. Also, the field workers who are working with the internally displaced persons in rescue work too have been advised to obtain the drug. Sources said Doxycycline could also be obtained from health officers serving in affected MOH areas. They also cautioned those with “open wounds on their feet to be extra careful of the bacterial infection.”