BANGKOK, July 21 — Permanent Secretary for Public Health Narong Sahametapat has warned the public of possible widespread leptospirosis during the current monsoon after seven persons died of the disease since the beginning of this year.
Dr Narong cited statistics issued by the Ministry’s Disease Control Department as showing that 861 people in 61 provinces nationwide have suffered from the disease since this January 1 to July 14.
Most patients were aged 25-54 and most were male, said Dr Narong.
More than half of the patients were farmers, he said.
Leptospirosis, or ‘Rat Urine Disease’ as it is known more prosaically in Thai, is spread by exposure to water contaminated by the urine of infected animals.
Certain occupations, such as farming, refuse collection, mining and work in abattoirs, put people particularly at risk.
Symptoms can range from a light headache to kidney damage, liver failure, meningitis and respiratory disease.
In rare cases the disease can be fatal.
Dr Narong said the ministry has ordered provincial public health stations to instruct the public how to protect themselves from the disease.