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Pet dog may be carrying deadly bacteria

Leptospirosis, caused by a bacteria found in domestic animals, has already claimed 80 lives in Mumbai and Thane.
PTI | By PTI/IANS, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON AUG 13, 2005 12:28 AM IST

Over 80 people have died of fever due to waterborne diseases in the metropolis and neighbouring Thane district of Maharashtra after the July 26 heavy rains, and over thousand were undergoing treatment at various hospitals, even as a Central team has arrived to review the situation, official sources said here on Friday.

Over 40 persons with fever died in the metropolis while it has claimed 48 lives in neighbouring Kalyan and Dombivili, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation sources said.

Facts about Leptospirosis

What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis [lep-to-spy-RO-sis] is a potentially serious bacterial illness, the same 'type' of bacterium which causes Syphilis and Lyme Disease.

How it is caused:

The bacteria occurs in many serovars or strains, each occurring in a variety of domestic animals and wildlife. 


Mode of transmission:

By contact with fresh water, wet soil, or vegetation that has been contaminated by the urine of infected animals.



Leptospirosis is treatable with antibiotics like Doxycycline. Treatment should be started as soon as possible. Severely ill persons might need intravenous antibiotic treatment and other supportive care.

  Symptoms: Symptoms include fever, headache, chills, nausea and vomiting, eye inflammation, and muscle aches.  
  Diagnostic tests: A blood test helps. Special tests include the MSAT or Macroscopic Slide Agglutination Test.  
Is Leptospirosis preventable?
  Doctors say it's preventable.

Personal hygiene and sanitation are important.

Exposed wounds should be washed with antiseptic.

Wading in muddy water should be avoided.


Dr YE Yeolekar, Dean of Sion Hospital, where several patients were admitted, said although the flow of patients with fever is continuing, the severity of the symptoms have become mild.

There were two patterns among the patients -- while most appear to have mild to moderate illness, very few have severe illness with complications, he added.

In addition to cases of fever, hundreds of people from Thane, Kalwa, Mumbra, Kalyan and Dombivali were also hospitalised for diarrhoea and dysentery.

Municipal hospitals here and in Thane district have created special fever wards and the KEM hospital has put 178 extra beds to accommodate new patients, according to its dean Dr Nilima Kshirsagar.

Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh was visiting patients at VN Desai and Bhaba hospitals in western suburbs to inquire about their health.

Meanwhile, a Central team has arrived here to review the situation, state Health Secretary office sources said.

Hospitals battle with post-flood diseases

Hospitals in Mumbai are finding it hard to deal with an outbreak of water-borne diseases from the devastating floods that have killed up to 70 people in the past five days.

Even as over 1,500 people have been admitted to the city's 16 government-run hospitals with diseases such as dengue, the government played down the fear of an epidemic in the country's financial hub.

Most of the 70 deaths were from the densely populated city suburbs that were worst affected by last month's unprecedented floods.

Despite adding extra beds, most of the poorly equipped civic hospitals are finding it hard to cope with the rising number of patients who need urgent medical care.

Absence of state-of-the-art blood testing facilities and medicines has compounded the problems.

"We are trying our best to cope with the situation with the limited facilities we have. No one was prepared for this kind of an outbreak," said an official of the KEM Hospital in the northern city suburb of Parel.

"The number of patients is rising every day. We have asked all our doctors to be on duty round-the-clock but still we are not able to manage the situation," added the official who didn't want to be named.

The 1,800-bed multi-facility KEM Hospital has added over 150 extra beds. Several patients have been put up on the floors of the hospital corridors.

The situation is equally grim in other civic hospitals like Bhabha Hospital in northern city suburb of Bandra, which accounts for a large number of patients.

Angry relatives of the patients say that proper medical care was not being given in the hospitals due to overcrowded wards as well as lack of beds, doctors and medicines.

"We have to run after the doctors to get their attention," said Salma Sheikh, a resident of Bharat Nagar slums in Bandra, whose 13-year-old daughter is sick with fever for the last two days.

"They are not giving proper attention to patients who are too weak to walk or stand. Things are really very bad for people like us who can't afford treatment in private hospitals," said Sheikh standing in the corridor of Bhabha Hospital.

"Even though authorities say that medicines will be distributed free in hospitals, the doctors just write a prescription and ask us to buy them from outside. When I protest, they ask us to go somewhere else."

A hassled Divya Thakur, who rushed her father to the hospital, said the hospital authorities were not showing any signs of urgency even in the case of critically ill patients.

"They had taken my father's X-ray more than an hour back and still haven't started any treatment," said Thakur.

"They say no treatment cannot start till the X-ray report is examined. My father is having respiratory problems but there is no one to look after him. I don't know what to do now," she moaned.

All the government hospitals in the city of over 15 million people were put on alert on Thursday to give priority to cases of fever.

The outbreak has badly affected middle class areas like the northern suburbs of Bandra, Andheri, Santa Cruz, Virar, Kurla, Thane and Kalyan -- all of them thickly populated.

Most of these areas had come under five to 15 feet of water following torrential rains that pounded the city late last month killing at least 450 people.

Residents complain that an epidemic was long expected as civic authorities failed to clean up the areas worst affected by the floods even after the waters receded.

Despite the rising death toll, the Maharashtra government has played down fears of an epidemic and said the situation was completely under control.

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