The Ministry of Health and Medical Services has declared an outbreak of leptospirosis for the Central Division. There have been 69 cases of leptospirosis in Central Division from January 1st this year, with 18 people requiring admission to the CWM Hospital. The majority of cases have been in the 1-19 and 20-29 age groups. There have been 4 deaths from leptospirosis in the Central Division so far in 2019.
Leptospirosis is a disease caused by bacteria that affects both humans and animals. Humans get leptospirosis through contact with the urine of infected animals. This often happens through contact with mud, water, or food contaminated with the urine of infected animals. People who work with animals (e.g. farmers) are at higher risk of getting this disease, however the current outbreak in the Central Division is also affecting people who do non-animal related work. Recent heavy rains and flooding are likely to have contributed to the increase in cases in the Central Division.
Animals that may spread the disease through their infected urine include; rats, dogs, cats, cattle, pigs, horses and mongooses.
The symptoms of leptospirosis include:
- High fever
- Muscle aches – commonly around the calves (backs of lower legs) and lower back
- Jaundice (yellow skin and/or eyes)
- Red eyes
- Abdominal Pain
- Shortness of breath
Please visit the nearest healthcare facility if you have symptoms of this disease
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. Early treatment with antibiotics administered by a doctor is key to preventing complications and deaths.
You can prevent getting leptospirosis by avoiding contact with the urine of infected animals. This includes:
- Avoiding wading/swimming in waters that may be contaminated with animal urine, especially flood waters
- Wearing protective clothing and footwear when working with livestock
- Separating households from livestock e.g. through the use of fences/pens
- Regular household cleaning
- Getting rid of rats in the household
- Keeping your food and eating/cooking utensils away from rats and pets
- Washing fruits and vegetables
What is the Ministry doing?
Medical Officers in the Central Division have been alerted to the outbreak of leptospirosis in order to encourage early recognition, treatment, and referral of cases as required. Fiji’s Leptospirosis Clinical Guidelines have been redistributed to all medical officers in the Central Division, and refresher training on the guidelines has been organised. The Central Division and Subdivisional Outbreak Response Teams, including our Environmental Health Officers, have been working closely with the Ministry’s Centre for Communicable Disease Control to conduct investigations and public health awareness and interventions involving household inspections in the community. The public have also been advised through mass media advertisements on the prevention of leptospirosis.
For more information please visit your nearest healthcare facility or the ‘My Health Section’ on the Ministry of Health and Medical Services website https://www.health.gov.fj