Thiruvananthapuram: At least 28 people lost their lives after contracting rat fever (leptospirosis — a water-borne disease) in the last few weeks. High alert for the rat fever was sounded in various districts of flood-battered Kerala after at least nine people lost their lives to the water-borne disease in the last week. Also Read - Disabled Artist Donates Prize Money From Reality Show To Help Kerala Flood Victims

“During monsoon, some cases usually crop up, but this time, there is a spurt in leptospirosis cases. Out of 60 people who complained of symptoms, 28 were confirmed,” Kozhikode district medical officer was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times. Also Read - Kerala floods: Vodafone and Airtel offering free voice calls, mobile data and SMS benefits

A state health official said that at least 300 cases of people, including three relief workers, suffering from water-borne diseases — which is high during flooding — have been reported in last three days from Kozhikode, Palakkad, Thrissur, Malappuram and Ernakulam. A rat fever or leptospirosis alert has been issued for the three districts. Also Read - Monsoon Mayhem: Over 100 Dead, Several Missing as Rain Continues to Wreak Havoc in Kerala, Karnataka And Maharashtra

People living in the three districts have been advised to avoid any self-treatment and get yourself checked with the doctors if any of the symptoms occur. The symptoms include high fever, rashes, chills. The disease is communicable through infected rats/rodents and generally affect the people having liver or kidney diseases.

A.P. Suganan, an expert from the Indian Council of Medical Research, told reporters here that as a matter of caution, all those who came in contact with flood waters — including those engaged in rescue operations — should take the preventive treatment. “There is no vaccine for this, instead everyone should take doxycycline once weekly for six weeks,” said Suganan.

A health official said that around two million people in the state would have come in contact with the flood waters and hence all of them should take the preventive action. “The need of the hour is that anyone, who shows symptoms or has fever, should take medical help,” said Suganan.

Incessant rains in Kerala have left a total of 417 dead and nearly 8.69 lakh people in 2,787 shelters. The total damage is estimated to be over Rs 35,000 crores. While the worst is over for the state, some scientists had earlier warned that there would be “unimaginable risks” if the current level of emission is continued.

Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pashan, said that only one condition such as Kerala flooding cannot be attributed to climate change. In fact, he said, during 1950-2017, there has been a significant increase in widespread extreme rains leading to a flood-like situation.