Staff Reporter

Cases reported from areas where NREGP schemes are being implemented

223 cases confirmed since January

Preventive activities intensified

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The district health administration is concerned over the spiralling incidence of leptospirosis in the district this year, with many local outbreaks linked to the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP).

Unlike previous years, when leptospirosis cases used to be scattered in the district, many clusters of cases were reported this year from panchayats where schemes under the NREGP are on. The district has reported 223 confirmed cases of leptospirosis this year since January and already there have been five deaths.

On Friday alone, six new cases were reported in the district, three of which are part of a cluster of cases from Vilavoorkal in Vilappilsala, where several workers engaged in a canal construction work as part of the NREGP are down with fever.

Awareness campaigns

Large scale IEC (information, education and communication) campaigns organised by the district health administration about the need for taking adequate precautions – protective gear such as gum boots and gloves, using prophylaxis drugs – before engaging in manual labour seem to have had little effect as people continue to fall prey to the infection.

About 43 persons were engaged in the canal construction work at Vilavoorkal under the NREGP. After several workers fell ill, the health officials visited the area. After blood sample screening, three of the workers have now tested positive for leptospirosis.

“Those tested positive are being treated now and prophylaxis treatment with doxycycline tablets have been started for the rest of the group.

When workers are engaged as a group for cleaning activities and if one of them contracts leptospirosis, then we should suspect an outbreak in the making,” a health official said

There seems to have been some laxity in the manner in which the local bodies as well as the health workers have been treating the leptospirosis warnings that were being issued by the district administration.

Though a lot of IEC materials were distributed among field health workers ever since leptospirosis outbreaks began to be linked to NREGP, the information does not seem to have percolated down to the grassroots.

Those engaged in manual labour should be given protective gear and doxycycline tablets administered as prophylaxis before they commence their work. The medicine is available free in all primary health centres.

The health officials have also intensified leptospirosis preventive activities in Vilavoorkal, Vilappail, Malayinkeezh and Maranellore panchayats.