Eight people have now been confirmed dead in an outbreak of Leptospirosis in Fiji that began in January this year (2019). Five people died in the January-April period, with a further three deaths reported over the Easter Period (19-22 April). At least 400 more people have been infected with the disease, which is principally contracted from animal urine, and can reach epidemic proportions when flooding occurs, as has happened in Fiji this year.
Flooding in Labasa, Fiji, in January 2019. The Fiji Times.
Leptospirosis is caused by a number of Bacteria in the genus Leptospira, Spirochaete Bacteria related to Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme Disease) and Treponema pallidum (Syphilis). It typically manifests as a bout of severe fever, followed by several days of apparent recovery, then a second bout of fever which may be accompanied by meningitis and/or acute liver failure. The disease can be encountered worldwide, but in developed countries is rare except in those who work with livestock. However in areas of developing countries with poor sanitation outbreaks of Leptospirosisis can reach epidemic proportions during periods of flooding,
SEM image of Leptospira interrogans, one of the causative agents of Leptospirosis.
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