Agriculture, sanitation workers at increased risk for leptospirosis

by Miguel Mauricette, Ministry of Health

Acting National Epidemiologist, Dr. Gemma Chery, is advising the public to pay close attention to signs and symptoms of leptospirosis.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness recently recorded an increase in the number of cases of leptospirosis. The disease is caused by bacteria found in rats, cattle, pigs, horses and dogs.

“Some of the signs and symptoms of leptospirosis could be very mild so it can go from basic flu symptoms to more severe ones, which results in damage to internal organs like the liver and kidneys, and may actually result in death if it goes on untreated,” said Dr. Chery.

Farmers, agriculture workers, sanitation workers and sewer workers are considered to be at high risk of contracting leptospirosis, however, anyone exposed to rat contaminated water and soil is also at risk of contracting the disease. Dr. Chery said, it is important for persons to take the necessary precaution to protect themselves.

“If you have a break or cut in your skin you need to cover this up properly. Use waterproof plasters. We want farmers or those persons who work with the soil to use proper protective clothing like gloves and closed shoes. We also want persons to ensure that their foods are covered properly, and that they are stored properly in containers. Also the public needs to ensure that surfaces are always clean”.

Dr. Chery advised that it is important to visit the nearest health facility if there is any suspicion that you have been exposed to leptospirosis.

Cases of leptospirosis usually increase after periods of heavy rain or flooding.

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