Saturday January 19, 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

Public Safety Threatened As Stray Cattle Takes To The Street in Agra

District authorities in Agra, Mathura and Aligarh have had a series of meetings to resolve this problem.

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Cows, Pixabay

Bulls and cows are a growing nuisance and pose a threat to public safety in several districts of Agra.

From bulls going on the rampage and attacking humans, to stray cattle entering fields and destroying crops to the fear of cow vigilantes after the ban on cow slaughter, the stray cattle menace is leading to resentment among all.

On Friday, a 22-year-old motorcycle rider was killed after being hit by a bull on Fatehabad road.

In Etmadpur and other areas, farmers locked cows and bulls in schools and government health centres as the animals routinely enter farmlands and destroy standing crops.

Above all, tension prevails in the neighbouring Iglas town of Aligarh after a dozen cows were found buried alive in a dry canal.

Catttle, cow
Police sent to villages to drive away the cattle. Pixabay

Cow vigilantes have demanded firm action but so far no arrests have been made.

“Our labour and resources are all going waste because of hundreds of cows entering our fields and destroying our crops,” complained Ram Bharosey, a villager in Farah block in Mathura.

In the past one week, there have been half a dozen incidents of desperate and frustrated farmers locking stray cattle in government schools.

“Children have had to miss classes as there is no space and there are only cows in the school complex,” said Anek Singh, a farmer.

Catttle, cow
Indian cow. Pixabay

Police sent to villages to drive away the cattle have had to face the ire of the locals who want the Yogi government to urgently open gaushalas (cow shelters).

“The bovine population has suddenly multiplied. Groups of villagers with lathis in hand have to patrol villages to drive cows away. If you do not keep vigil, the crops would be gone in a few hours,” Subhash, a village level worker, said.

Also Read: Successfully Harvested First Vegetable Crop In The Antarctica

District authorities in Agra, Mathura and Aligarh have had a series of meetings to resolve this problem. Gram panchayats have been asked to earmark pasture land and provide support to gaushalas.

“In this extremely cold weather, villagers are forced to spend the whole night in the fields to keep the animals away,” said a farmer. (IANS)