Deadly 'rat fever' in flood-ravaged Indian state

Published: September 4, 2018
Kerala hit by "rat fever" after floods. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

Kerala hit by "rat fever" after floods. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

KOCHI: “Rat fever” and other diseases have killed 14 people in the southern Indian state of Kerala after the worst floods in almost a century, authorities said Tuesday.

The separate death toll from the monsoon floods that forced more than a million people from their homes in Kerala last month has meanwhile risen to 486, the government said.

“We had anticipated leptospirosis [rat fever] due to contaminated water and are taking all measures to distribute preventive drugs in camps,” Kerala health director Sarita R L told AFP.

Leptospirosis, transmitted in water containing urine from rodents and other animals, has killed six people and infected more than 100 while other diseases have left eight dead.

Hindu hardliner calls Kerala flood ‘chastisement for sin of cow eating’

Cases of malaria, dengue fever and chicken pox have also been reported. More than 5,100 people have acute diarrhoea, authorities said.

The floodwaters have now receded and fewer than 10,000 people remain in temporary camps, down from 1.4 million at the height of the crisis.

The monsoon, which lasts from June to September, causes widespread death and destruction across South Asia each year.

The death toll in India this year currently stands at 1,400 across 10 states, and heavy rainfall is forecast in several areas in the coming days.

In the north-eastern state of Nagaland, 11 people have died and 50,000 others are stranded across some 530 villages, with roads including the national highway into the state cut.

Nagaland’s chief minister Neiphiu Rio took to Twitter to appeal for donations, posting photos of widespread damage and saying that 10 relief camps have been opened.

In the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand around 270 people have perished.

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