January 16, 2011


Leptospirosis is a disease caused by a bacteria called leptospira interorgans.
People get leptospirosis when they come in contact water that has been contaminated with the urine of infected animals like rats. Flooding after heavy rainfall spreads the bacteria in the environment. The bacteria can live a long time in water and mud.

The disease is found world-wide, especially in tropical countries with heavy rainfall. In 1995, after widespread flooding in Nicaragua, a leptospirosis epidemic killed at least 13 persons and made more than 2,000 others sick. People who bathe in contaminated water in rivers or lakes or work in wet areas like paddy fields can get the disease if the water has been contaminated with the bacteria.

Leptospirosis bacteria enters the body through broken skin on the feet or any part of the body. It can also enter the body when a person swallows contaminated food or water. Once in the bloodstream, the bacteria can reach all part of the body and cause signs and symptoms of illness.

Symptoms usually begin about 10 days after infection. The symptoms are fever, headache, chills, nausea and vomiting, eye inflammation, and muscle aches. In severe cases, liver damage and jaundice ( yellowing of the skin and white of the eyes), kidney failure, and internal bleeding occur. If the disease is untreated leptospirosis can lead to damage of the internal organs and, in some cases, death!.

Leptospirosis is diagnosed by a special blood test that is available through state health departments.

Leptospirosis is treatable with antibiotics. Treatment should be started as soon as possible.

- If flooding occur in your “kampung”, try and avoid coming in contact with the floddwater. Wear rubber boots and gloves if you have to come contact with water.
- Do not swim in flooded waters.
- Boil all drinking water.
- Do not eat anything that has been soaked in the floodwater.
- See doctor if you have fever, chills, body aches, and intense headache, vomiting or jaundice.

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