Outbreak News Today

US Virgin Islands: Leptospirosis case confirmed on St. Thomas

The US Virgin Islands (USVI) Department of Health is reporting a confirmed case of leptospirosis in the territory on St. Thomas, according to Health Commissioner Dr. Michelle S. Davis Friday.

US Virgin Islands
Image/M.Minderhoud

Dr. Davis said D.O.H.’s team of epidemiologists would investigate where the victim lives to determine how the disease was contracted.

Like the cases reported in Puerto Rico, this case was contracted following Hurricane Maria.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals. It is caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira.

The bacteria that cause leptospirosis are spread through the urine of infected animals, which can get into water or soil and can survive there for weeks to months.

In humans, it can cause a wide range of symptoms, some of which may be mistaken for other diseases. Some infected persons, however, may have no symptoms at all.

Without treatment, Leptospirosis can lead to kidney damagemeningitis(inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death.

The infection can be treated with antibiotics (penicillin and doxycycline), especially if started early in the disease. For very ill patients, intensive care support and IV antibiotic may be necessary.

Related: Puerto Rico crisis: What are the infectious disease risks post-Hurricane Maria