After heavy rains lashed the city on August 29, civic health officials began issuing warnings to Mumbaikars on the risk of contracting water-borne diseases and infections, especially typhoid, leptospirosis, hepatitis, and gastroenteritis.
The warnings and announcements have begun in different localities. On Friday, the civic health department issued an advisory in slum areas of the city where chances of spreading monsoon-related diseases are high.
Among the diseases is leptospirosis, which usually strikes seven to 12 days after a person wades through contaminated water. It had claimed 66 lives after the July 2005 deluge.
A high-level meeting of state government and BMC health officials was called on Wednesday to discuss the roll-out of antibiotic Doxycycline as a preventive measure for those who waded through water for a long time. The medicine works against leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that is transmitted to humans through rat and cattle urine.
“We plan to give the medicine to people who have exposed themselves to the floods. There is another meeting with state officials on Thursday morning to finalise the plan,” said Dr. Avinash Supe, Dean of King Edward Memorial Hospital.
In August, 8,000 plus fever cases have already been recorded by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) across city hospitals and dispensaries. The figure is expected to rise in the coming days, said officials.
The civic public health department has prepared guidelines and distributed the antibiotic to doctors. “The medicine either doxycycline or azithromycin, depending on the patient’s exposure levels and age, should be taken within 72 hours of wading through the floodwaters,” a senior doctor said.
The most common symptoms are severe fever, chills, weakness, muscle ache, and vomiting. “Early symptoms like fever will be checked and immediate smear tests will be conducted to check for malaria, dengue, and leptospirosis,” said Dr. Mini Kheterpal, Deputy Executive Health Officer.
The health officials have surveyed 11.66 lakh people in slum pockets. “Nearly 24,898 people, 1,261 children, and 74 pregnant women got the preventive medicine,” the official added.