Leptospirosis alert in Kannur

People urged to take precautions

The Health Department authorities here on Saturday issued a leptospirosis alert urging the public to take precautions against the possible post-flood outbreak of the infection.

In a press release, District Medical Officer Narayana Nayak said the alert was being issued in view of the possible contamination of water resources as most parts of the district had been affected by the recent floods. The symptoms of leptospirosis (rat fever) are fever, headache, muscle pain, and excessive tiredness. Some patients might also show symptoms of jaundice, red eye and decreased urine output, he said.

Dr. Nayak said that leptospirosis is a zoonotic infection spread to humans through animals including rats, dogs, cats and livestock. As the infection is transmitted through contact with soil or water contaminated by body fluids, usually the urine, of an infected animal, people working in fields and those who were involved in cleaning up of drainage, streams, canals, ponds and waterlogged areas were at risk.

Those doing animal husbandry jobs should wear hand gloves and rubber boots. Secretions of domestic animals and pets should be handled with care.

Food items and drinking water should be covered to ensure that they were not infected by the secretions of rats. Children should be barred from entering waterlogged areas.

Preventive medicines

People at risk, especially those who have high chance of contact with infected water and adults involved in cleaning up operations, should take Doxycycline 200 mg (two Doxycycline tablets of 100 mg) once a week for six weeks. The dosage for children in 2-12 age is 4 mg/kg body weight once a week. Children below two years should be administered one dose Azithromycin 10 mg/kg body weight). Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should take Amoxicillin 500 mg thrice a day for five days.

Dr. Nayak said a dose of preventive tablet gives immunity to infection for seven days. Therefore, those who continue to encounter contaminated water should take the tablet for six weeks. The tablets are available for free of cost in all government heath care facilities.

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