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Waded through Mumbai’s flooded roads, tracks? Look out for symptoms of leptospirosis

When people walk through dirty water for more than half an hour, there is high chance of them coming in contact with bacteria that can enter the body through open wounds.

mumbai Updated: Jul 05, 2018 12:44 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Mumbai monsoon,Mumbai floods
Doctors have advised people who have walked through flooded streets to look out for symptoms of leptospirosis. (HT File Photo/Used for representational purpose)

After the heavy rains and the subsequent breakdown of the suburban railway and road traffic on Tuesday forced thousands to wade through flooded tracks and streets, doctors have advised people to look out for symptoms of leptospirosis.

The bacterial infection has already claimed three lives in June, with just five positive cases reported across Mumbai.

Leptospirosis, mainly a monsoon disease, is caused by leptospira bacteria, present in the urine of animals such as rats, dogs and cattle. When people wade through flooded streets for more than half an hour, there is a high chance of them coming in contact with the bacteria that can enter the body through wounds.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s health department, has distributed over 75,000 pills of doxycycline, a prophylactic, to around 30,000 people from vulnerable areas. However, experts said indiscriminate use of the medicine would in turn increase chances of antimicrobial resistance.

“We have treated multiple cases of leptospirosis, including a middle-aged farmer from Akola who had a history of cuts and waded through infected pools of water. Since all of them were treated early on, the patients recovered quickly,” said Dr Behram Pardiwala, internal medicine expert, Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai Central.

Dr Pardiwala said early intervention is the key to effective treatment. “Doxycycline is effective medication, but it’s not a vaccine. The effect wears off within three days and we can’t cover the entire population. It also increases the chances of resistance,” said Dr Pardiwala.

Doctors however said it is too early to comment on the statistical change with respect to no loss of life in June 2017 as compared to three this year. “We will have to wait until July-end to see how the bacteria affected people,” said Dr Om Srivastava, infectious diseases expert.

Dr Padmaja Keskar, municipal executive health officer, said BMC epidemiology team of BMC has already started checking areas where people usually brace waterlogging. “Whoever has been in flooded water for over half an hour, seek medical attention immediately, especially if you have cuts on your legs.”

First Published: Jul 05, 2018 12:44 IST