by Michael Woodhead
An outbreak of leptospirosis in Sichuan in which six people died shows that the disease spread by water contaminated with rat urine is far from eliminated in China.
The 26 cases of leptospirosis reported in Lezhi country east of Chegdu in 2010 were analysed by researchers from the Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology,
Institutes of Medical Sciences, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of
They found that the cases were caused by the parasite that is typically spread from rats to humans via the urine and other hosts such as domestic dog and cattle. The researchers noted that local farmers in Lezhi collect rainwater in
the farm land for rice plant. And in the harvest season, men and women, old and
young all work barefooted in the farm land.
The infection is caused by a spirochaete bacterium and signs of the disease may vary from mild fever and jaundice to very severe and often fatal kidney, liver, and heart failure.
The leptospirosis outbreak coincided with periods of heavy rainfall and flooding they noted.
"This outbreak has reminded us that leptospirosis should not be neglected, especially during flood season," they concluded.
They reported their findings in the Biomedical and Environmental Sciences journal.