How are rats killing people in Mumbai

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Mumbai's civic body is going all out to control the rat population. Find out why

leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is caused by Leptospirae, a bacteria present in an infected rats urine

Despite the absence of rain showers, Mumbai grapples with one of the worst rain-related diseases this year- the deadly leptospirosis. Caused by the Leptospirae bacteria, this disease spreads from mammals (mostly rats) to humans. “When the urine of an infected rodent or dog mixes with water and human skin comes into contact with the water, leptospirosis spreads,” says Dr Kusum Shenoi, general practitioner, Navi Mumbai.

According to the source, around 21 cases of the illness have been recorded across various Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) hospitals since June. Of these, 12 patients have succumbed to complications arising out of this disease in the first week of July itself. To check the spread, the BMC is now resorting to joining hands with external agencies to kill rats. More rat traps are also being bought.

Wading through pools of flooded water during the monsoons or consuming food contaminated with an infected rat’s urine makes one susceptible to this infection. Leptospirosis does not spread from one human to another.

Symptoms of leptospirosis

Those suffering from this disease display two or more of the following symptoms:

  • Fever with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Calf tenderness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headache

Haemorrhage and meningitis are complications which arise at the later stages of the disease.

Tips to safeguard yourself and your family from leptospirosis

  • Avoid wading through flooded waters specially in areas near garbage dumps
  • Encourage your kids to wash their legs and hands thoroughly with soap and warm water throughout the monsoon
  • The bacteria can gain entry into the body easily if a person who comes in contact with infected water has cuts, scrapes or bruises. Ensure the cuts are properly covered with adhesive bandages
  • Muddy puddles may look inviting during monsoons. So if your kids want to make a splash, ensure they wear gumboots or rain shoes that drain out puddle water
  • Avoid eating food from roadside stalls
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after you use the toilet, especially a public toilet
  • Avoid stepping into roadside puddles for a day after a pedicure as there may be minor cuts on the feet which could allow bacteria

Treatment

If a doctor suspects leptospirosis in a patient, a blood test may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis. “Detecting leptospirosis early is imperative. Hence, symptoms must not be ignored and a doctor must be consulted at the earliest,” informs Dr Shenoi.

Image source: Inquisitiveeater, caribvet

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