Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Health have advised members of the public on reducing their risk of infection, following the reports of 15 cases of Leptospirosis at the San Fernando General Hospital, including two fatalities
Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Health have advised members of the public on reducing their risk of infection, following the reports of 15 cases of Leptospirosis at the San Fernando General Hospital, including two fatalities.
Leptospirosis is a potentially lethal bacterial infection which, if diagnosed early, can be treated.
Cases started being reported in October 2017, with symptoms commonly presenting as a mild flu-like illness, with high fever, headache, sore throat, chills or muscle pains, red eye and sometimes a rash.
More severe cases reach the liver and cause jaundice and anaemia, and if untreated the disease can reach other internal organs such as the brain, lungs and kidneys, in some instances leading to fatality.
It is spread through direct contact with the urine of infected animals, most commonly rodents, farm animals and dogs, by ingesting or inhaling the infected urine or contaminated water.
The risk of this infectious disease increases in flood situations occurring after a hurricane or heavy rain season, as seen in its onset in October.
To reduce the risk of infection, the Ministry of Health has advised members of the public to avoid contact with animal urine or potentially contaminated water, wear protective clothing when working in areas prone to contamination and keep wounds clean.
They also advise consuming only clean drinking water and throwing away any food that may have come into contact with contaminated water, though canned food may be safe if the container has been thoroughly cleaned with a bleach solution.
Ministry officials have undertaken surveillance and health education activities in the wake of the outbreak, visiting communities affected by flooding.
They have visited food premises to ensure contaminated foods are not for sale and are appropriately disposed of, checked that food preparation and processing facilities are avoiding contaminated materials, liaised with farmers and market vendors regarding health protocols, including the disposal of contaminated crops, and ensuring authorities remove the carcasses of large animals.
Officials are also reporting overflowing hygiene facilities, like septic tanks and pit latrines, to authorities, and overseeing post-flooding management of applying bactericidal spray to domestic hard surfaces and chemical treatments against mosquitoes.
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