An outbreak of leptospirosis locally called “rat fever” has hit the southern Indian state of Kerala following the flood disaster that hit the region last month.
Authorities suspect the bacterial disease has killed dozens of people since mid-August after the worst flooding in a century. Reports say there had been nearly 200 confirmed cases of the infection.
Local media reported three leptospirosis deaths on Monday.
“The victims had unfortunately not taken preventive medicine,” the minister said. Overall, nine deaths from the disease have been confirmed, but the number may rise to over 40 pending full medical reports, the ministry spokesman said.
Leptospirosis, a waterborne disease, is transmitted via the urine of infected animals, with symptoms including muscle pain and fever.
The surge in cases comes after torrential rain beginning on August 8 flooded almost the entire state, killing hundreds of people, destroying thousands of homes and causing at least 200 billion rupees ($2.81 billion) worth of damage.
Reuters quotes Health Monister, K.K Shailaja as saying that the health ministry began distributing preventive medicine last month and warned about the outbreak of leptospirosis and other waterborne diseases such as typhoid and cholera.