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Times of India
07 December 2010
Pune, India

34 Deaths Were Registered In The State Till November; Ten Positive Cases In City
Leptospirosis Cases Rise in Coastal Belt
Leptospirosis, an animal-transmitted infection, has claimed 34 lives in the state so far this year. Going by state health department figures, coastal parts of the state, including Raigad, Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri, were the worst hit by the infection, registering 17 deaths.

Mumbai, which recorded 206 confirmed cases, accounted for the remaining deaths. Pune has recorded 10 positive cases, a government health official said.

Though the number of cases recorded this year is much lower than previous years, the difference is that this year, other areas are showing a higher incidence of infection and death. Earlier, the high figures were confined to Mumbai, he said.

"In the coastal areas, intermittent rains led to accumulation of water in the fields. In addition, the spill over grains during harvesting attract rodents. The infestation of mice leads to contamination of water due to bodily excretions like urine. This causes infection of leptospirosis through the skin," said the official.

Leptospirosis Cases Rise in Coastal Belt
Notably, all 17 people from the coastal region, who died due to the infection, were farmers or farm workers, he added.

Among the coastal districts of the state, Raigad reported 461 suspected and 219 confirmed cases in its eight affected talukas. It reported nine confirmed casualties of the infection. Sindhudurg reported 1,693 suspected cases, 162 confirmed cases and 7 casualties.

In Ratnagiri, there were 19 positive and 85 suspected cases in four affected talukas. Of them, one person fell victim to the infection, said the state government official.

Leptospirosis can be transmitted by rats and other vermin. It is transmitted through contact with infected soil or water, which in turn is contaminated by the waste of an infected animal.

People contract the disease by either ingesting contaminated food or water or by broken skin and mucous membrane (eyes, nose, sinuses, mouth) contact with the contaminated water or soil.

A team from the health department took action and immediately started treating the cases with antibiotics like doxycycline. As a preventive measure, others were also given the antibiotic, said officials.

Leptospirosis is essentially a zoonotic infectious disease caused by spirochetes of the genus leptospira that affects humans under certain environmental conditions. In humans it causes a wide range of symptoms. Some infected persons may have no symptoms at all.

The Symptoms
Syptoms include high fever, severe headache, chills, muscle aches, and vomiting, and may include jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhoea or a rash. If the disease is not treated, the patient could develop kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, and respiratory distress. In rare cases, death occurs. Many of these symptoms can be mistaken for other diseases.

Two Distinct Epidemiological Patterns
Over the years, two distinct epidemiological patterns have evolved, the rural and the urban pattern. In cities, rodents that infest the sewage systems and free living animals act as carriers. Even a mild rainfall can choke the poorly maintain drainage systems, flooding the roads and causing upsurges of leptospirosis during the monsoon. (Source: Directorate of State Health Services, Maharashtra)

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