Leptospirosis in Fiji
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- There is an outbreak of leptospirosis in Fiji.
- 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.
- To prevent leptospirosis, travelers should avoid swimming or wading in water that might be contaminated with animal urine and avoid contact with potentially infected animals.
- Protective clothing or footwear should be worn by those exposed to contaminated water or soil. Cuts and scratches should be covered by waterproof bandages.
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).
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.
What is the current situation?
Health officials in Fiji have reported an outbreak of leptospirosis; most cases have been recorded in the Central and Northern divisions. In response to the outbreak, the Fiji Ministry of Health is working to manage the situation, increasing disease surveillance and conducting clean-up and awareness campaigns.
Who is at risk?
Travelers at highest risk for infection are those exposed to contaminated fresh water (such as lakes and rivers in affected areas) while swimming, wading, kayaking, or rafting. Leptospirosis is also a potential hazard for adventure travelers; travelers who spend time around animals, such as veterinarians and animal caretakers; agricultural workers; and humanitarian aid workers. The risk of leptospirosis increases after heavy rainfall and flooding.
What can travelers do to prevent leptospirosis?
Travelers to Fiji should take the following steps to prevent leptospirosis:
- Avoid contact with fresh water or wet soil, as it could be contaminated with animal urine. Don’t wade through, swim in, drink, or swallow water from lakes, rivers, ponds or streams.
- Do not walk outside barefoot. Wear waterproof protective clothing, especially footwear, if you must have contact with water or wet soil.
- Cover any cuts or scratches with waterproof bandages.
- Be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all your planned activities.
If you get sick during or after travel
- If you feel sick during travel, seek medical care immediately. Leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics, which are most effective when taken early during illness.
- If you get sick after returning to the United States, seek medical care immediately. Tell the clinician about your travel and that you think you have been exposed to contaminated water.
- Leptospirosis in CDC Yellow Book
- Leptospirosis Overview for Health Care Workers
- Leptospirosis Fact Sheet for Clinicians
This notice was originally posted September 25, 2020.