Monsoon diseases: Leptospirosis has killed more people than malaria and dengue in six years in Mumbai | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Monsoon diseases: Leptospirosis has killed more people than malaria and dengue in six years in Mumbai

ByJyoti Shelar, Mumbai
Sep 25, 2021 04:17 PM IST

Leptospirosis — a bacterial disease that spreads through the urine of infected animals such as rats and cattle — has emerged as the biggest killer among monsoon diseases, such as dengue and malaria

Leptospirosis — a bacterial disease that spreads through the urine of infected animals such as rats and cattle — has emerged as the biggest killer among monsoon diseases. Data gathered from the civic body shows that 70 people have succumbed due to leptospirosis over the past six years. In comparison, dengue, a mosquito-borne disease, has killed 55 people and malaria has killed 38 people during the same period.

Leptospirosis has killed 70 people over the past six years. In comparison, dengue, a mosquito-borne disease, has killed 55 people and malaria has killed 38 people during the same period. The cases of leptospirosis are typically during monsoon and after flooding events, when people are forced to wade through water (Picture for representation)
Leptospirosis has killed 70 people over the past six years. In comparison, dengue, a mosquito-borne disease, has killed 55 people and malaria has killed 38 people during the same period. The cases of leptospirosis are typically during monsoon and after flooding events, when people are forced to wade through water (Picture for representation)

The leptospirosis infection is caused by bacteria leptospira that can enter the human body through cuts, abrasions or open wounds. The cases of leptospirosis are typically during monsoon and after flooding events, when people are forced to wade through water. However, doctors say that a few sporadic cases are reported throughout the year from areas with overflowing sewers, water accumulation, and a general lack of cleanliness.

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Since 2015, the city has recorded 1,576 cases of leptospirosis, according to civic data. However, this data captures patients who were admitted only in the civic-run hospitals. A large number of patients could be treated in private hospitals and on an outpatient department basis as well.

“Mortality in leptospirosis is generally seen when patients seek medical advice very late,” said Dr Wiqar Shaikh, professor of medicine at the state-run JJ Hospital. “One of the severe impacts of leptospirosis is swelling in the liver, which may worsen in cases of late diagnosis. Also, patients with existing comorbidities can have a severe impact,” he said adding that since June this year, he has treated around 40 patients with leptospirosis.

Once confirmed with the infection, patients are treated with the antibiotic drug doxycycline. The civic body also advises taking the drug as a prophylactic if someone has waded through floodwater. “But there is absolutely no awareness about it among the people,” said Shaikh. “Many patients who come to us have no clue about what leptospirosis is. There is a dire need for awareness in the communities,” he said.

Physician Dr Gautam Bhansali said that leptospirosis also becomes fatal in cases where patients have extremely low platelet count, which puts them at the risk of bleeding. “Due to Covid, patients are seeking medical help as soon as they develop symptoms like fever. It has helped in early diagnosis of other diseases like leptospirosis,” he said. Bhansali has seen four cases of leptospirosis this monsoon season.

The pediatric department of civic-run LTMG Hospital in Sion which caters to people from Dharavi and nearby areas has seen a spurt in cases this year. In 2020, the department had recorded 43 leptospirosis cases in all. This year, the number has touched 62, three months before the year-end. The department has also recorded six leptospirosis deaths among children this year.

“The children that we lost were all brought in extremely late to the hospital,” said Dr Radha Gulati Ghildiyal, head of the paediatrics department at the LTMG hospital. “Majority of them developed acute respiratory distress syndrome and had a history of wading through water,” she said.

The civic data, however, has counted only four leptospirosis deaths in Mumbai this year so far. The other deaths are currently under the review of the death committee.

Hindustan Times had sought 10-year data on monsoon related diseases however the civic body said that the data between 2011 and 2014 was currently unavailable. Data collated from previous reports show that Mumbai had recorded 135 cases of leptospirosis in 2010, 141 in 2011 and 151 in 2012. The city had recorded 18, six and two deaths due to bacterial infection respectively. Cumulative data for 2013 and 2014 was not available.

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