Mumbai, Rainfall and Disease

Rain is important for everyone throughout the world. India is an agricultural nation and we are completely dependent on the rains for farming. It also fills our reservoirs and recharges our groundwater.

But what does rain bring for urban India?

If you’re a native of Mumbai, rains might bring you the memories of Marine Drive, hot and tasty Vadapav, Famous Cutting Chai, listening to songs and playing football.

But if you ask the average Mumbai office-goer what does the rain means for them, they would first think of Mumbai Floods, Local Trains and Waterlogging. And we Mumbaikars believe ourselves to be hard-working and work-oriented. Despite all the waterlogged areas and delayed local trains we still try to reach the office by wading through water while being completely drenched in wet clothes.

And no sooner than the water levels go down, we get to see the streets strewn with garbage and rats running around to feast upon anything edible they can eat. Looking at this, a question comes to the mind that what did we achieve by wading our way through all this? What did we gain from this apart from getting a newspaper headline called ‘Mumbai Spirit’?

Perhaps the answer we were least expecting is ‘Leptospirosis!’

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that affects animals and humans. You may wonder, what is the connection between rains and leptospirosis. Leptospirosis occurs more in tropical countries like India. Rats are one of the carriers of this bacteria. And this bacteria can enter your body through open wounds when you’re wading through Mumbai’s waterlogged areas.

It affects around 1 in every 10,000 persons. Leptospirosis in its mild condition can be treated in a week. But if it’s not treated on time it may transform into a severe form and it could be fatal to the affected person. In severe cases of leptospirosis, bacteria attack the vital organs and may lead to Kidney or Liver failure, respiratory distress and meningitis or encephalitis.

Leptospirosis in its mild form is difficult to diagnose as its symptoms are very much alike to the common infections such as flu. But it can easily be prevented by simple measures such as good personal hygiene, keeping the wound clean and applying a waterproof dressing, controlling the rodent population through effective waste management, appropriate pet vaccination as pets are carriers of this bacteria and avoiding wading through waterlogged and flooded areas.

So the next time, Mumbai gets waterlogged, stay back at home and enjoy the quality time with your family.

Swanand Gawde, Programme Coordinator