Rat fever on the march

by Don Asoka Wijewardena    

The incidence of Leptospirosis or rat fever is increasing with around 3,000 patients detected since the beginning of 2013. Of that number 54 have died. In 2008 around 7,400 people contracted leptospirosis and 200 died, according to the Health Ministry.

Health Ministry Media Secretary D. M. W. Wanninayaka told The Island that leptospirosis could be fatal if untreated. Medical experts were of the opinion that leptospirosis was caused by rats in paddy fields. It was caused by a bacterium called leptospira found in the livers of rats. Another study conducted by the Health Ministry had revealed that people in non-farming communities were also contracting the disease. Medical experts have found that leptospirosis could be transmitted to humans by the bandicoot and the mongoose as well.

The spokesman said that the symptoms of the disease were high fever, headaches, bodily pains, difficulty in passing urine and abdominal cramps. The farmers who had open wounds or injuries on the body should not get into paddy fields, he said.

Scientists were trying to find out whether the disease was also transmitted by the water buffaloes, he said.

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