With the heavy rains of recent months, Leptospirosis returned to French Guiana. According to the Agency Regional Health (ARS) on March 25, 2022, the disease has already caused one death and several
patients are currently in intensive care units.

French Guiana/CIA

On average, about 40 cases are diagnosed each year in the territory. About 10 cases were diagnosed in February of 2022 and as many in March, from three to four times more than usual.

The latest cluster dates back to May 2020. Most of patients live in Cayenne; cases have also been identified in Rémire-Montjoly.

“We registered a greater number of cases. Between suspected and confirmed cases, between 10 and 15 cases have been reported monthly since the end of January at the Cayenne hospital. When there is a greater amount of water, as in recent weeks, the incidence increases. Thresholds remain correct despite this rally; however, it is necessary to call for vigilance, put on shoes and protect homes in case of floods and landfills nearby,” said Professor Pierre Demar Magalie, of the Cayenne Hospital Center, Unit
of Infectious and Tropical Diseases.

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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).

To reduce your individual risk, it is important to understand that exposure to animals, soil, mud, and floodwaters during work or recreational activities increases your risk of infection.

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.

Leptospirosis is treated with antibiotics.