In the aftermath of recent widespread flood which wreaked havoc on farmers in south and east Trinidad, there has been an increase in the number of cases of the rat-borne leptospirosis, caused by the consumption of contaminated vegetables and ground provision.
This, in spite of warnings from the Ministry of Health to residents in the affected districts about consuming crops that may have been in the flood. Yesterday, a source at the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) where 13 cases were admitted only this week, confirmed that two patients had died. One of the 13 cases at hospital, a market vendor, was reported to be in serious condition.
“We have people coming in from the Penal/Debe area, Barrackpore, Woodland and most of the areas where there was a lot of flooding since October 18. The rains came and lasted for several days. When we questioned the patients, most of them revealed that they were farmers, vendors. The others may have eaten something contaminated by rat faeces or urine,” a nurse at the hospital said.
Another nurse opined that, because of the floods, rats would have been seeking higher ground among fruits, vegetables and ground provisions that had been salvaged by residents. Additionally, she said if rat urine got into clothes or bed sheets, the person using those items could contract the disease which manifested as skin rashes, fever and vomiting.
The nurse said, “The guy who is in a serious condition said he sells market stuff. He said he sells sweet potatoes and he saw a lot of rats in the area where he stores his stuff. He has been tested positive. He is really bad. We had two people who have died from it so far. One died last week and one died earlier this week.”
The nurse said that 13 cases were admitted this week. Following the flooding, the Ministry of Health issued several advisories warning consumers about eating crops that were damaged by flood waters. They appealed to farmers not to sell such products. Acting chief Public Health Inspector Neil Rampersad also said flood waters might contain harmful bacteria that could lead to an outbreak of diseases such as Hepatitis A and leptospirosis.