Leptospirosis kills 31 in past eight months
Deputy Public Health Minister Anuthin Chanweerakul yesterday warned flood-affected villagers of leptospirosis, after 1,400 cases were found in the past eight months resulting in 31 people dying.
Anuthin insisted the disease could be prevented if people refrained from wading through floodwater and muddy ground with bare feet as leptospirosis enters the body via wounds and scratches. He urged flood-affected people to wear plastic boots and said the ministry had prepared medication and supplies for the timely treatment of leptospirosis patients.
Director-general of the Disease Control Department, Dr Thawat Sunthrajarn, said 60 people in Nan province had contracted leptospirosis - 44 were now hospitalised and six had died. Since the diagnosis took some time to confirm, people with leptospirosis symptoms would immediately be given antibiotics. Most people were cured if they sought medical attention early enough, he said.
The disease caused by the leptospira bacteria usually occurred during the rainy season from August to November and most cases were found in the Northeast and northern regions, Thawat said.
The disease, which has an incubation period of five to 14 days, has symptoms including fever, muscle pains, headaches, vomiting, jaundice and multiple small haemorrhages in the skin.
The leptospirosis scare had spread among Nan residents, prompting villagers to wear boots whenever they went out, while some demanded vaccinations for all family members. Chin Nantachai, a village headman in Tha Wang Pha district, urged the government to send more plastic boots to villagers.
In Phitsanulok, where many areas were flooded and some were suffering from stagnant water, residents were warned of leptospirosis following the discovery of 10 cases in Phrom Phiram, Bang Rakam, Bang Krathum and Muang districts. In Kalasin there were 100 leptospirosis patients but no deaths had been reported, said public health official Dr Somyos Srijaranai.
Source: The Nation - 12 September 2006