In Navsari, Gujarat, an outbreak of Leptospirosis has resulted in eight lives being lost. Currently, almost a hundred persons are suspected of being affected by the deadly disease.
According to health officials, doxycycline - the preventive medicine, has been administered in 67 out of 392 villages in the district, which are declared affected. Officials add that till September 2, about 2420 fever cases were reported among which 99 were suspected to be cases of leptospirosis.
In Chikhli taluka, Ghenj village three cases were detected while in Kukeri village, there were two deaths. In Gandevi taluka, Masa village had four cases with one death, Amalsad village had three cases with one death and Morli village had four cases with two deaths reported.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection resulting from exposure to the Leptospira interrogans bacterium. It is also known as canicola fever, hemorrhagic jaundice, infectious jaundice, mud fever, spirochetal jaundice, swamp fever, swineherd's disease, caver's flu or sewerman's flu.
It is believed that leptospirosis is one of the most common zoonotic infections in the world. Millions of people are infected each year, but in developed countries information and treatment can be limited, as cases are considered 'rare' by the medical community.
A recent survey report from the Preventive and Social Medicines (PSM) department of Surat Medical College, gives that about 80 per cent of the population have taken the preventive medicine supplied by health department. Past records also claim that the district health department had distributed doses of preventive medicine in various high-risk areas.
Meanwhile, it has been observed that though villagers were given two capsules of doxcycyline weekly that were continued for the next eight weeks, lepto cases are still reported in Chikhli and Gandevi talukas.
Says Harshad Patel, assistant district health officer (ADHO): "The preventive medicine has 40 per cent deterrence effect. Presently doxycycline is the most effective drug available in market. However, it is beneficial in reducing severity and deaths. Still research is in progress to develop a vaccine for leptospirosis.
"Also new trends are seen in lepto cases, its victims and location. Generally it affects kidney and liver, but now its effects are seen on lungs and brain. Mostly people engaged in agricultural activities were its victims but now populations in coastal villages are its targets," Patel added.
In the past, though Valsad district had reported more cases, this year the unfortunate title goes to Navsari district.