With Dakshina Kannada recording its second death this year due to leptospirosis (rat fever), health authorities have asked farmers and those working with animals, slaughterhouses and sewage workers and lorry drivers to be extra careful.

Coastal areas and Malnad region are prone to the disease because of temperature, soil salinity and high rainfall and stagnating water, according to B. V Rajesh, District Surveillance Officer.

Premalatha, a 33-year-old woman from Belthangady died due to complications arising from leptospirosis on Sunday, taking the toll to two in the district. The first death in the district was of one Jayaram, a plumber from Sullia, who died due to leptospirosis in June this year in Mangalore.

Dr. Rajesh, who confirmed the death of Premalatha due to leptospirosis, said she went to the primary health centre in Kaniyoor. She had loose motions and her legs got swollen on Friday but she was not taken to hospital on Saturday. She was rushed to Adarsh Hospital in Puttur from where she was taken to KMC Hospital here for dialysis.

Dr. Rajesh is planning to visit the place on Wednesday with a team including an epidemiologist, microbiologist, senior health inspector and taluk health inspector.

An Elisa test is required to check if a person has leptospirosis.

Early detection key

In leptospirosis, early detection is important. If untreated for three to four days, jaundice can set in followed by acute renal failure and pulmonary haemorrhage, which can be fatal, Dr. Rajesh said.

Rodents carry leptospirosis bacteria and they urinate contaminating soil and water. If humans ingest the contaminated water or bathe in water (from lakes and ponds or other stangant water), they are prone to get the disease.

Elimination of rats, wearing of footwear and use of gloves are some of the measures that could be taken to protect oneself. The disease does not spread from person to person, he clarified.

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