Rat fever: 2900 cases so far this year

By Dilanthi Jayamanne

 Leptospirosis, better known as rat fever, continues to trouble the health authorities. The Epidemiology Unit of the Health Ministry has reported that there have been over 2,900 cases, from the beginning of January till the end of last week.

Health Ministry sources said yesterday that the highest number of cases had been reported from Polonnaruwa (146), Colombo (155), Moneragala (189), Gampaha (270), Kalutara (287), Kurunegala (250), Ratnapura (278) and Anuradhapura (294).

Sources said that the biggest surge in rat fever had been reported during the months of March with 716, followed by 504 cases in April and 421 in May. Epidemiology Unit Chief Dr. Paba Palihawadana said that the most vulnerable groups were those who were involved in irrigation work, paddy cultivation, gem mining and those engaged in sewer cleaning.

The risk was more with the rains. Flood conditions, during the monsoons, might also be hazardous, Dr. Palihawadana warned.

The symptoms of rat fever are fever, headache and reddening of the eyes.

The Epidemiology Chief appealed to the public to seek immediate medical help if they contract fever after being in wet conditions – especially in muddy, unclean water for a long time. She warned that the disease, if untreated, could lead to acute renal failure and acute myocarditis (inflammation of heart muscle).

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