A residential structure is seen partially submerged as flood waters recede in Kuttanad, Alappuzha in the southern state of Kerala, India. Image Credit: AP

Thiruvananthapuram: As tens of thousands of Keralites affected by last month’s floods are busy cleaning up their slush-filled homes, a second threat is haunting the state in the form of leptospirosis, commonly known as rat fever.

Five more deaths were reported due to rat fever on Monday, taking the toll from the disease over the past five days alone to more than three dozen.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial diseases that is transmitted chiefly through soil or water contaminated by the urine of the disease-carrying animals.

Of those who lost their lives, Ranju, a native of Ranni, and Anil Kumar of Eranjikkal, Kozhikode, had been volunteers in the rescue and rehabilitation work in the aftermath of the floods.

On Sunday, as many as 10 people had lost their lives in the state due to rat fever. The development is a blow to the tourism prospects of the state, which were slowly showing signs of revival with some international tourists reaching Alappuzha for houseboat rides over the past few days.

Rat fever cases have been reported from different districts, including Kozhikode, Wayanad, Malappuram, Thrissur, Alappuzha and Kottayam.

At the Thrissur Medical College alone, over 50 persons with symptoms of the disease are undergoing treatment. In Malappuram district, nearly 50 people are under observation. The situation is reportedly most severe in Kozhikode district, where close to 100 people are under observation.

Authorities have asked all those who had walked through water — either as victims or rescuers — and are now showing symptoms of rat fever, like fever, headache, red eyes and vomiting, to seek medical help at hospitals.