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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 Leptospirosis have been reported to the Epidemiology Unit (EPU) of the Ministry of Heath within the six months of this year.
Five districts, Gampaha, Kalutara, Galle, Matara, Ratnapura and Moneragala, have reported over a hundred cases of Leptospirosis, while Colombo and Kegalle have reported 92 and 97 cases respectively.
Rat fever is spread from the urine of infected animals and rodents, especially rats. It can spread to humans through contact; especially in it comes in contact with open wounds. Rat fever is It potentially 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 are 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. (GID)