Monsoon ailments hit Mumbai before rains


Even as the city continues to await relief in the form of rains, it is already finding itself reeling from monsoon ailments. A health report for May shared by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) showed that in May there have been two cases each of cholera and leptospirosis.

BMC health officials said that since this January, there have been 20-22 leptospirosis cases.

“While wading through contaminated water is the known form of contracting this bacterial disease, there are many modes of contracting leptospirosis. It can be inhaled, orally ingested,” said Dr Mini Khetrapal, in-charge of BMC’s epidemeology department.

She said the department has prepared a list of high-risk wards for leptospirosis based on last year’s cases.

“We have figured out BMC wards that have a considerable number of cattle population/animal shelters. The infection spreads when the cattle’s contaminated urine or excreta gets mixed with water during monsoon and people wade through it. We have, therefore, asked the cattle and pet owners to get their animals vaccinated and provide treatment if they are ill,” said Khetrapal.

Doctors fear that there may be a rise in leptospirosis cases once the monsoon hits the city. “It’s true that leptospirosis may rise once monsoon hits the city. The infection is commonly transmitted from animals to humans when people with wounds or breaks in the skin come into contact with water or soil that has been contaminated with animal urine,” said Dr Anil Ballani, physician at Lilavati hospital.

Fever, vomitting and body pain are the symptoms for this water-borne disease. In severe cases, it may also affect the liver and kidneys if not caught in time. There is a blood test for people to know if it’s leptospirosis.

People should not have cuts on their feet, they should have healthy foot hygiene and should avoid going out in the monsoon if there are floods or water-logging.

She further said that as far as stomach ailments are concerned, the department has been conducting drives on checking water samples and ice cube samples from across the wards. “Two cholera cases were found from H-east (Bandra) and Dharavi. As a precautionary measure, a house-to-house survey was conducted and water samples were tested. It comes across as a sporadic case, which is generally reported throughout the year,” said Khetrapal.

Cholera is a highly infectious disease that is characterised by diarrhoea, vomitting and dehydration. It spreads rapidly within the community and could be fatal if not treated at the earliest. It is caused by the intake of water or food contaminated by the bacterium vibrio cholerae and can take epidemic proportions if not controlled in time.

Doctors explained that in Mumbai water-borne diseases are high because of two reasons — contamination of water and people’s habit of eating out. “Mumbaikars love to eat at roadside stalls, which is one of the major reasons behind rising water-borne diseases. Gastroenteritis is the most common water-borne illness,” said Dr Pratit Samdhani, physician at Jaslok Hospital.

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