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WEDNESDAY, December 06, 2023

2,700 cases and 31 deaths reported in leptospirosis outbreak amid heavy rains

2,700 cases and 31 deaths reported in leptospirosis outbreak amid heavy rains
SUNDAY, October 08, 2023

Leptospirosis, commonly known as rat fever, is spreading, with 2,700 reported cases and 31 deaths, particularly in the northeastern and southern regions, a stage agency said on Sunday.

The outbreak, which usually occurs in the rainy season, is more severe this time following consecutive days of heavy rainfall. Dr Thaweechai Wisanuyothin, director of the Disease Prevention and Control Office 9, Nakhon Ratchasima province, warned the public, especially farmers, about the disease, as the wet season brings flooding, creating conditions conducive to the spread of leptospirosis. The disease is transmitted from animals to humans, especially in wet or flooded areas. The leptospira bacteria, which causes the disease, are found in the urine of rats and other rodents. Pets like dogs, cats, cows, sheep, and goats can also carry the bacteria. The bacteria thrive in wet and flooded areas where they contaminate water and moist soil. Walking barefoot in water or mud for an extended period poses a high risk of contracting the disease, as the bacteria can enter the body through cuts, abrasions, or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth. Consuming contaminated food or water can also lead to infection. As of September 24 this year, Thailand has reported 2,700 cases of leptospirosis, with 31 fatalities. Most patients are in the northeastern and southern regions.

Surin province has the highest number of cases at 36, followed by Nakhon Ratchasima 29, Chaiyaphum 17, and Buri Ram 9. The majority of patients are farmers (57.14%), followed by labourers (26.37%), and children (8.79%). 

The age group most affected is 65 years and older, followed by the age groups 55-64 and 45-54.

Precautions for the public: ▪︎ Avoid walking barefoot in flooded areas or mud. If necessary, wear boots or clean plastic bags over shoes. After walking in water, wash hands and feet with soap and water promptly.

▪︎ If you have wounds, cover them with waterproof bandages to prevent direct contact with contaminated water. ▪︎ Control and eliminate rats in living areas, workplaces, and tourist sites. Ensure proper drainage, and clean areas having contaminated water. ▪︎ If you experience symptoms such as high fever, headache, body ache (especially in the thighs and calves), nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, red eyes, promptly consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Delaying treatment could lead to complications, such as yellowing of the skin, yellow eyes, acute kidney failure, acute liver failure, bleeding in the lungs, vomiting blood, black stool, abnormal neurological symptoms, respiratory failure, and even death.