Fiji health officials are always on a constant watch for three infectious diseases– leptospirosis, dengue fever and typhoid fever, and now the concern is especially on leptospirosis. The Fiji Times says the island has recorded 148 cases of the bacterial disease so far, with most detected in the Western and Central divisions.


“Leptospirosis is endemic to Fiji with the recurring potential for hyperactivity or epidemic occurrence should the risks for disease transmission increase,” according to National adviser communicable diseases Doctor Mike Kama.

“Health workers at all Government health facilties are on heightened alert for leptospirosis cases and events all year round given the endemic nature of the disease with the potential of epidemics.”

Dr Kama said those affected were usually adolescents and the working age society, especially those in rural areas who work in farms without the proper protection, and were at more risk of contracting the disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals. It is caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira. 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 damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death.

Humans can become infected through:

  • contact with urine (or other body fluids, except saliva) from infected animals
  • contact with water, soil, or food contaminated with the urine of infected animals.

The bacteria can enter the body through skin or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth), especially if the skin is broken from a cut or scratch. Drinking contaminated water can also cause infection. Outbreaks of leptospirosis are usually caused by exposure to contaminated water, such as floodwaters. Person to person transmission is rare.

Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today and the Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch

Follow @bactiman63