With deaths due to leptospirosis spiralling this monsoon, especially among the younger population in the age bracket of 15 to 29 years, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has started reaching out to municipal schools to raise awareness among children regarding avoiding games in grounds inundated with water.
Data from the municipal health department shows that in July alone, of 97 leptospirosis cases, 43 patients fell in the age bracket of 15 to 29 years.
In June, a 15-year-old boy from Kurla died in Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital in Sion after contracting leptospirosis. The boy, Parab Ramesh Kale, had reportedly played with friends in a flooded open field following which he started developing symptoms and required hospitalisation. In another case in July, 17-year-old Karan Chandu Singh is suspected to have contracted the bacteria when he went out to Worli Sea Face during heavy rains.
According to Dr Yogesh Shete, general manager in Deonar Abattoir, eight schools in three wards — R Central (Borivali), P North (Malad ), and M East (Govandi) — have been sensitised using audio-visual presentations. “We are looking at all possible prevention measures. If youngsters avoid wading through water, or at least take medication to prevent infection, several cases can be prevented,” he said.
BMC data shows five deaths have been confirmed due to leptospirosis this year.
In addition, the BMC is also issuing notices to private cattle owners who are found abandoning their cattle. Cattle and rodents are the most common known carriers of leptospirosis bacteria. In a month, about 50-60 stray cattle are being rounded up on average by four BMC vehicles and transferred to Malad shelter home, said Dilip Karanjekar, an officer in the Deonar abattoir who is in-charge of cattle sheds.
“In case, the stray cattle’s owner is found, a case is registered against him,” said Karanjekar.
Dr Santosh Revankar, deputy executive health officer, said cattle shed owners are sensitised before the monsoon to properly treat and dispose of cattle waste. “Often, the fodder is placed where cattle also urinate. It mixes and poses infection risk,” he said. “The cattle waste has to be treated before it is disposed of. We have asked goshala owners to immunise their cattle, although it will not prevent the disease spread as vaccination against all strains of leptospirosis bacteria is yet to come.”