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200 Cases of Bacterial Disease In Maha This Yr, 167 In Mumbai Alone

Leptospirosis, a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals, has infected over 200 and claimed four lives in Maharashtra so far, including one in Pune rural.

Mumbai has reported the highest number of cases, 167, but no casualty. Of the four who have died of the bacterial infection, two are from rural parts of Thane, one from Thane Municipal Corporation area and the fourth from Pune rural.

"Of these 209 cases and four deaths, most cases were recorded after the onset of monsoon," said a state health official.

As many as 6,996 blood samples of suspected lepto patients (6,294 samples were from Mumbai alone) have been tested at designated state laboratories between January and June this year. Of them, 209 patients tested positive, of which 163 were from Mumbai.

The sole person who tested positive for the infection in rural parts of Pune succumbed to the disease later. As per the state health department’s record, not a single lepto case was detected in the municipal limits of Pune city so far.

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However, the data of communicable and non-communicable diseases from private hospitals collated and compiled by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) show that private hospitals have treated five patients who had tested positive for leptospirosis so far. However, no deaths due to the disease have been reported by these hospitals.

Over the years two distinct epidemiological patterns have evolved vis-a-vis leptospirosis infection - the rural and the urban. "In cities rodents that infest the sewage system with free living animals act as carriers. Even a light rainfall chokes the poorly maintained drainage systems flooding the roads, causing a spurt in leptospirosis cases during monsoon. In the rural pattern, the outbreaks are associated with agricultural activities such as seeding, planting, and harvesting," said another state health official.

Sharing the view, another official said, "Leptospirosis is grossly under reported, this is mainly due to lack of awareness about the disease among medical professionals and difficulties in laboratory diagnosis of the disease."

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The spirochete leptospira interrogans bacteria causes the disease. These germs are shed out through the urine of infected animals such as rodents, dogs, cats, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, donkeys, horses, camels and elephants. In urban areas, leptospira organisms have been found mainly in rodents and dogs.

The infection occurs through contact with contaminated water or food or soil containing urine of these animals. People can get infected when walking through contaminated flood water, especially if the germs come in contact with the eyes, nose or broken or bruised skin on feet. The disease is not spread from person to person.

Veterinarians, pet shop owners, sewage workers, and farm employees are at particularly high risk, say health officials. People participating in outdoor sporting activities like hiking, and camping may also come into contact with contaminated water or soil.

Source :
Times of India
18 July 2013, Pune, India

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