Rat Fever warning | Sunday Observer

Rat Fever warning

The Health Promotion Bureau (HPB) Director and Epidemiologist Dr Paba Palihawadana has warned the public to take precautions to protect themselves from Rat Fever ( Leptospirosis) due to the current rainy weather, when the virus tends to spread.

A total of 1,574 suspected cases of Leptispirosis have been reported to the Epidemiology Unit ( EPU) up to June this year. A total of five districts have reported over a hundred cases of Leptispirosis which include Gampaha, Kalutara, Galle, Matara, Ratnapura and Moneragala, while Colombo and Kegalle have reported 92 and 97 cases respectively. Rat fever is spread from urine in infected animals and rodents, especially rats .Those trampling it with feet that have wounds can get infected. It is usually fatal, but preventable with Doxcycyline.

The number of cases reported in June so far is forty nine. Health Promotion Bureau officials have warned that the onset of the monsoon rains could cause the figures to spike. According to Epidemiologists some of the increased reporting of Rat Fever was from districts which have traditionally had a low number of cases and non-endemic districts. They said all Regional Directors of Health Services, had been alerted on controlling and preventing the current Leptospirosis outbreak following floods and heavy rains as a priority health issue and to ensure that adequate stocks of Doycycline are available for chemoprophylaxis to target groups (if necessary). Officials said that patients should seek healthcare very early with initial symptoms, from a government hospital or a qualified medical practitioner to prevent deaths and complications.

Information on symptoms and the drug Doxycycycline used to prevent it can be obtained by dialling the 24 hour hot line 0710107107 which is free and manned by specialists in the field.