By NewsDesk @bactiman63
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their travel notice for Fiji this week with the current leptospirosis outbreak primarily seen in the Central and Northern divisions.
According to the Fiji Health Ministry, 160 leptospirosis cases, including at least 10 deaths have been recorded.
The Fiji Ministry of Health is working to manage the situation, increasing disease surveillance and conducting clean-up and awareness campaigns.
Federal health officials say travelers at highest risk for infection are those exposed to contaminated fresh water (such as lakes and rivers in affected areas) while swimming, wading, kayaking, or rafting.
Leptospirosis is also a potential hazard for adventure travelers; travelers who spend time around animals, such as veterinarians and animal caretakers; agricultural workers; and humanitarian aid workers. The risk of leptospirosis increases after heavy rainfall and flooding.
CDC recommends the following to prevent leptospirosis:
- Avoid contact with fresh water or wet soil, as it could be contaminated with animal urine. Don’t wade through, swim in, drink, or swallow water from lakes, rivers, ponds or streams.
- Do not walk outside barefoot. Wear waterproof protective clothing, especially footwear, if you must have contact with water or wet soil.
- Cover any cuts or scratches with waterproof bandages.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease. People (and animals) can get infected when they are exposed to the urine of infected animals. They can also get infected from water, soil, or food contaminated with infected animal urine. Leptospirosis bacteria can enter the body through skin or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth).
Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, jaundice (yellow eyes and skin), red eyes, and skin rash. Without treatment, leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death.