By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Health officials in Reunion Island are reporting a significant increase in leptospirosis cases since the beginning of the year.

In 2021 to date, 74 cases of leptospirosis have been reported in Reunion, including 35 cases in April alone.

Reunion records about 100 cases annually, officials note, with the majority of them requiring hospitalization.

During this rainy season, ARS Reunion Island and Santé Publique France recommend to the population the need to strengthen vigilance and means of protection by implementing simple actions to avoid contracting leptospirosis.

The rainy season is the period of greatest risk because it presents temperature and rainfall conditions favorable to the survival in the environment of the bacteria responsible for this disease. Heavy rain episodes promote soil leaching and environmental contamination and are therefore particularly risky periods.

What is leptospirosis and what are the symptoms?

Leptospirosis is a serious disease caused by bacteria often found in rats and other rodents. The disease is contracted upon contact with a humid environment contaminated by the urine of these infected animals (sludge, puddles, stagnant water at the edge of gullies).

The bacteria enter the body through the skin if there are cuts or wounds (even small ones). After 4 to 14 days of incubation, leptospirosis manifests with the following symptoms (which can be easily mistaken for dengue or Covid-19 infection):

  • sudden onset high fever (often> 38.5 ° C)
  • muscle and joint pain,
  • stomach pain, nausea, vomiting
  • headache

The disease may get worse after a few days. If it is not treated with antibiotics in time, it can be fatal.