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Silent Assassin Lurking in the Floods: The Growing Leptospirosis Threat Puts Thousands at Risk – Farmers, Labourers, and Children Most Vulnerable!

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Following a series of torrential downpours, an unusually severe outbreak of leptospirosis is causing concern in rainy season. Dr. Thaweechai Wisanuyothin, at the helm of Disease Prevention and Control Office 9 in Nakhon Ratchasima province, is urging the public, particularly agriculturists, to be vigilant. The damp season makes the environment ripe for flooding, turning it into a hotbed for the propagation of this disease. Drawn primarily from animals hosted in waterlogged or inundated regions, leptospirosis can launch an attack on human health.

The villain of this disease, Leptospira bacteria, find their origin in the urine of both rats and various rodents. Regular household pets like felines, canines, bovines, caprines, and ovines could also be potential carriers of these threatening bacteria. These bacteria hold a joyous celebration in flooded, sodden landscapes, turning them into their contamination sites, affecting both H2O and moist soil. Barefoot strolling in water or mud over prolongated periods can have hazardous consequences, inviting the risk of leptospirosis. Cracks, scrapes, or mucous membranes found in the eyes, nose, or mouth can prove to be easy access points for these bacteria into the human body. Ingesting infested food or water can also promote infection.

As per the latest information on September 24 this year, the country has registered a whopping tally of 2,700 leptospirosis cases, out of which 31 unfortunately resulted in fatalities. The highest disease incidences are concentrated majorly in the northeastern and southern parts of Thailand.

In terms of provincial distribution, Surin stands as the frontrunner with 36 cases, followed closely by Nakhon Ratchasima with 29. Chaiyaphum secured the third position reporting 17 cases while Buri Ram ended fourth with 9. Demographically, farmers seem to be the most susceptible (57.14%), followed by labourers (26.37%) and then children (8.79%).

Age-wise, the vulnerable group is those who are 65 years and older, followed closely by age groups 55-64 and 45-54.

Taking a few easy precautions has never hurt anybody. So, follow these guidelines:

  • Avoid walking barefoot in flooded areas or muddy terrain. Use boots, or else, wrap your shoes in clean plastic bags. Don’t forget to rigorously wash your hands and feet with soap and water after any tryst with water.
  • If you have any wounds, never forget to use waterproof bandages before coming in contact with any possibly-contaminated water source.
  • Keep rats at bay, particularly in residences, workplaces, and tourist spots. Make sure to maintain proper drainage, and make contaminated spots clean.
  • If there’s a sudden spurt of symptoms like high fever, headache, body aches (especially in the thighs and calves), nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, red eyes, please consult a healthcare professional for immediate diagnosis and treatment.

Remember, procrastinating can only magnify the problem and grow into complications like yellowing skin and eyes, acute kidney and liver failure, lungy bleeding, bloody vomiting, black stool, abnormal neurological symptoms, respiratory failure, and mortality.

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