Rats on the rampage

Published: Tuesday 15 November 1994

-- Medical experts have warned that a rat borne disease, leptospirosis, which has already claimed 14 lives in Bulsar district in Gujarat, may spread to other parts of the country and rapped the government for ignoring its spread. At Plague Vision '94, held in Delhi on October 12, K K Aggarwal, the president of Delhi unit of the Indian Medical Association, said that leptospirosis -- caused by the stool of rats and jackals -- has till now been restricted to rural areas, where farmers work barefoot. "The bacteria infects the kidney, heart and brain, causing fever, cough and body pain. If not treated early, the disease can be fatal," says Aggarwal.

Although leptospirosis claimed its first victim on September 14, according to doctors at the Bulsar district hospital, both the central and state governments are yet to react. M V Thambe, a senior resident at the hospital says this is because the state machinery is more concerned about plague in a big city like Surat.

Delegates at the conference added that no spraying of rodenticides has been undertaken in most rural areas. Doctors also criticised the National Institute of Communicable Diseases for not issuing guidelines for combating the disease.

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