After Kurar village was flooded following a wall collapse that killed 27 and injured another 132, the civic health department has warned of a possible spike in leptospirosis in the area. Several whose hutments were washed away had to wade through water for hours looking for their missing kin and later for their belongings in the debris, exposing them to the infection.
Three special health camps have been set up in Ambedkar Nagar and Pimpri Pada since Tuesday. Till Thursday, 179 patients had been given primary treatment. A camp in Pimpri Pada on Thursday was visited by 47 slum-dwellers, most who lost their homes, were injured and suffered from fatigue. “These people have fever, some are weak and tired, but most have smaller injuries. We are administering doxycycline as preventive measure against leptospirosis,” said Dr Ruchuta Boraskar, medical officer of P North ward.
Outside the makeshift camp, Pavitri Mangore, supported by two women, was passing in and out of consciousness. Usha Jadhav sat nursing her fractured foot, her four-year-old son Kunal sleeping by her side. He suffered water ingestion and keeps coughing.
“My body pains, I was kept in Jogeshwari Trauma hospital for two days then discharged,” she says as she limps. Somebody saved her son, but he gulped a lot of water, and keeps coughing, Jadhav said. The homeless family either sleeps in the local Shiv Sena’s office or in nearby Queen Mary school’s classrooms. Jadhav’s father-in-law Datta Jadhav (50) passed away when their hut collapsed on Monday night.
Nagarbai Nanavare who lost her family of five along with her home suffers fatigue, her day spent in looking for household articles in the debris and night cramped amongst 20-25 people in a school’s classroom. “With no roof and these rains, it is difficult to live here. We depend on free meals that NGOs get for us,” she said. She is one amongst the hundreds of slum-dwellers administered pills to prevent leptospirosis infection.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that spreads through infected urine of animals. In Mumbai cattle and rats are the most common carriers. The infection usually spreads when a person wades through water with an open wound or break in skin, coming in contact with the bacteria present in water-logged areas. Across Mumbai since January this year, 25 leptospirosis cases have been recorded in municipal dispensaries and hospitals. From one, cases jumped to five between May and June.
Although no deaths have been reported this year, last year 12 people died and another 218 were infected with the bacteria. The bacterial infection peaks in July and August.
With open drains, lack of sanitation and stagnant water, civic officials fear malaria incidence may also rise in Ambedkar Nagar and Pimpri Pada, the two localities where the wall collapsed and stored water from a reservoir flooded the area. In June 310 malaria cases were reported from across Mumbai. “Those with fever are being screened for malaria and referred. For children Azithromycin is given to prevent leptospirosis,” a doctor in a camp said.
The BMC has also undertaken pest-control activities. Insecticide department is spraying anti-fly in the slum amongst debris and decaying garbage. “Priority right now is to prevent flies that are attracted by decaying debris,” said Dr Rajan Naringrekar, head of insecticide department. He added that rat burrows will be poisoned once a dry spell comes to control leptospirosis. Poisoning activity in burrows cannot be undertaken during rains.