Officials in Mumbai, India have reported 54 leptospirosis cases in July and 59 cases since the beginning of the year.
Approximately a third of the patients diagnosed during the past two weeks have succumbed to the bacterial disease. Health officials say the high fatality rate is likely due to a delay in treatment with a number of cases.
According to an Indian Express report today, Investigations by the civic body into each death caused by leptospirosis in the last 12 days indicate that at least 11 lives could have been saved had the patients taken medical aid earlier.
“These 11 patients came late for treatment. We have been urging people to avoid self medication and visit nearest hospital,” said deputy executive health officer Dr Minnie Khetarpal, adding that the disease is easy to cure if treatment begins within first three days.
The surge in leptospirosis cases have been linked to flooding that occurred late last month after heavy rainfalls.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals. It is caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira.
The bacteria that cause leptospirosis are spread through the urine of infected animals, which can get into water or soil and can survive there for weeks to months.
In humans, it can cause a wide range of symptoms, some of which may be mistaken for other diseases. Some infected persons, however, may have no symptoms at all.
Without treatment, Leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death.
The infection can be treated with antibiotics (penicillin and doxycycline), especially if started early in the disease. For very ill patients, intensive care support and IV antibiotic may be necessary.