With 106 people in Mumbai detected of leptospirosis in the past 45 days, the BMC is trying to find out the animal species that are acting as the primary carriers for the bacteria.
Civic officials said rodents were considered to be the most common reservoir or carrier of the bacteria, but the sudden spurt in cases indicates the possibility of other animals infected with the bacterium. So far, 18 people have died of leptospirosis in the city, the highest since 2011.
Last week, experts from Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Science University collected blood and urine samples of around 100 animals from Mumbai. “We are screening the samples to isolate the serogroup (classification of the bacteria species and sub-species) of the leptospira bacterium in these animals. The transmission of the bacteria is occurring from the animal to humans and so it is vital to know the animals that are harbouring the serogroup and infecting humans,” said a senior official from the university.
Experts said in animals the bacteria do not trigger any symptoms. “Animals may not have any clinical manifestation (symptoms of sickness) even if the bacterium is present in their blood. They (animals) shed the bacteria (through faecal matter) which enter the environment and infect humans,” added the official.
“The team from Chennai has collected the blood and urine samples of rats, dogs and large animals from different parts of the city. The reports are awaited,” said Sanjay Deshmukh, additional municipal commissioner, BMC. Isolating the bacteria from the samples may take about eight weeks.