Wednesday November 13, 2019

Study: Fever, chills, And Muscle Pain Could Be Signs Of Leptospirosis

Fever, chills, and muscle pain aren’t the symptoms just of malaria

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A herdsman walks his cattle as they graze in Naivasha, Kenya, Feb. 15, 2018.
A herdsman walks his cattle as they graze in Naivasha, Kenya, Feb. 15, 2018. VOA

Fever, chills, and muscle pain aren’t the symptoms just of malaria. They could be signs of leptospirosis, which infects millions of people each year — primarily in tropical regions.

The under-reported disease is usually spread though contact with rodents, but a new study finds this trend may not hold in northern Tanzania or beyond.

Research in Asia has tied living in close quarters with rats to outbreaks of leptospirosis. The bacterial infection causes symptoms that are often mistaken for malaria. Severe cases can be life-threatening, says Professor Albert Ko at the Yale School of Public Health.

“Our group has done global burden of disease studies on this and there are over a million a cases a year and roughly 60 thousand deaths,” said Ko.

Common source of fevers

Leptospirosis is becoming recognized as a common source of fevers in Africa. But the source of the disease was unclear. It could be rats, or it could be something else, said Michael Maze, of the University of Otago.

“Well, we know that leptospirosis has many possible animal hosts,” said Maze. “I guess the story starts when we identified how common leptospirosis was the cause of severe fever in people coming to the hospital in northern Tanzania.”

Maze and an international team of researchers asked those patients about their lifestyles: how many rats they saw around their home… whether they owned livestock and if so, what kind?

They also tested blood samples for leptospirosis infections. Of the nearly 900 people tested, almost a third were infected, or had been.

The researchers also trapped almost 400 rats in nearby villages. They tested the rodents to see if they carried the leptospira bacterium like their Asian cousins. They did not.

But cattle did — they found over seven percent of them carried up to four types of leptospira that could potentially infect humans. Goats and sheep did, too, though less often.

cow
cow, Pixabay

Blood samples match

This result matched the findings from the patients’ blood samples. People who owned livestock were most likely to have leptospirosis infections, especially cattle owners.

“Leptospirosis is carried in the renal tract — so the kidney and the bladder — and comes out in the urine of infected animals,” said Maze. “So even simple things like avoiding urine while doing activities such as, for example, milking cattle would be a good first step.”

Maze recommends abattoir workers and dairy farmers wear gloves and other protective clothing.

“A cow is much bigger and it produces a much larger volume of urine and so that creates a greater opportunity for exposure,” said Maze.

But Maze and colleagues found doctors did not diagnose a single one of the patients in the study with leptospirosis. In fact, one in four active cases was misdiagnosed as malaria — even though the patients’ blood tested negative for parasites.

Symptoms similar

Maze says one reason is because symptoms of the two diseases are similar and there is not an accurate, simple test for leptospirosis that can be run in regional hospitals.

“The second reason is that clinician awareness of these diseases is low,” said Maze. “If you don’t recognize them it becomes a cycle where they’re never diagnosed so you never recognize them.”

Yale’s Albert Ko says the work Maze and his colleagues have done provides a better understanding of how leptospirosis spreads.

Also read: The outbreak of Leptospirosis with monsoon: Symptoms and precautions

“This is an important study specifically because it provides key information on risk factors in a high burden setting, said Ko. “In specifically among this at-risk population of vulnerable pastoralist society.” (VOA)

Next Story

Cow Numbers in India Witnesses a Sharp Increase Since 2012

The female cattle (cows) population is 145.12 million, increasing by 18 per cent over the previous census (2012)

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The 18 per cent jump in the Cow numbers in 2019 is sharply higher than the increase in livestock population at 4.6 per cent and increase in bovine population by one per cent. Pixabay

There has been a sharp jump, by 18 per cent, in the Cow Numbers in the country, as per the latest livestock census report released on Wednesday, over the previous enumeration done in 2012.

he NDA government at the Centre and the BJP governments in various states have introduced many schemes for the protection and welfare of cows.

The 18 per cent jump in the number of cows in 2019 is sharply higher than the increase in livestock population at 4.6 per cent and increase in bovine population by one per cent.

The total livestock population in the country increased by 4.6 per cent over the previous census conducted in 2012, to a total of 535.78 million.

The female cattle (cows) population is 145.12 million, increasing by 18 per cent over the previous census (2012).

The 20th Livestock Census report was released by the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying on Wednesday.

The total bovine population comprising cattle, buffalo, mithuns and yaks is at 302.79 million in 2019 which shows an increase of about 1 per cent over the previous census.

In addition, the total number of cattle in the country in 2019 is 192.49 million showing an increase of 0.8 per cent over the previous census.

The 20th Livestock Census was conducted in participation with all states and Union Territories. The enumeration was done both in rural and urban areas.

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The 20th Livestock Census report on Cow Numbers was released by the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying on Wednesday. Pixabay

Various kinds of animals including cattle, buffaloes, mithuns, yaks, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, ponies, mules, donkeys, camels, dogs, rabbits and elephants, and poultry birds including fowls, ducks, emus, turkeys, quails and other poultry birds possessed by the households, household enterprises and non-household enterprises and institutions have been counted at their site.

The data of more than 27 crore households and non-households have been collected in the 20th Livestock Census to assess and arrive at the livestock and poultry count in the country.

According to the census, there is a decline of 6 per cent in the total indigenous/ non-descript cattle population over the previous census. However, the pace of decline of this cattle population during 2012-2019 is much lesser than as compared to the 2007-12 period, where it was about 9 per cent.

The total buffaloes in the country numbered 109.85 million showing an increase of about 1 per cent over the previous census.

The total milch animals (in-milk and dry) in cows and buffaloes is 125.34 million, an increase of 6 per cent over the previous census.

The total poultry in the country, at 851.81 million in 2019, registered an increase of 16.8 per cent.

The total commercial poultry in the country is 534.74 million in 2019, increasing by 4.5 per cent over the previous census.

Cow
The NDA government at the Centre and the BJP governments in various states have introduced many schemes for Cow Protection and Welfare. Pixabay

The major thrust given to the latest census is the collection of data through tablets computers. This census is a unique attempt as for the first time such a major initiative has been take to digitise household level data through online transmission from the field.

In the whole operations, the state/UT governments engaged more than 80,000 field personnel who are mostly veterinarians and para-veterinarians for the smooth conduct of the exercise.

ALSO READ: Mastercard Starts Initiative To Accept Digital Payments

The Livestock Census has been conducted in the country periodically since 1919-20 and covers all domesticated animals and their headcounts. So far 19 such censuses have been conducted. (IANS)