Leptospirosis on rise in Fiji after cyclone

News and Press Release
Originally published
From Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies/University of Hawai'i
SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun/PINA, Feb. 5) -- An increasing number of people in Fiji's main northern island, Vanua Levu, are being diagnosed with leptospirosis in the wake of deadly Cyclone Ami.

Acting director Northern Health services, Dr Ami Chand, said leptospirosis has been common in areas where a lot of flooding occurred during the cyclone.

"Fortunately no deaths have been reported so far," he said of the increase in cases reported by hospitals.

Vanua Levu was already battling a leptospirosis problem but this has grown after the cyclone, which caused severe flooding in Vanua Levu.

Leptospirosis is a potentially fatal acute infectious disease common in tropical climates. Humans become infected through contact with water, food, or soil containing urine from infected animals.

Chand said: "We try to educate the public ... especially to wear protective gloves and boots when out in waterlogged areas."

Authorities have also urged people to seek medical treatment once they start getting early symptoms. If the disease is not treated, the patient could develop kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, and respiratory distress.