Health Ministry warns: Protect yourself against Leptospirosis

The Ministry of Health is urging the public that during the rainy season to avoid the health risks associated with flooding.

Flood waters may carry silt, raw sewage and bacteria that can contaminate food and water and make it unsafe.

The ministry said the risk of the infectious disease Leptospirosis is especially high in flood situations, such as after a hurricane or heavy seasonal rains.

Leptospirosis is spread by bacteria and, once diagnosed early, it can be treated. Leptospirosis is spread through the urine of infected animals (usually rodents, dogs, farm animals and horses).

Animals and humans become infected by direct contact, by drinking or inhaling the infected urine, or water contaminated by urine.

The time between a person’s exposure to a contaminated source and becoming sick is 2 days to 4 weeks. Illness usually begins abruptly with fever and other symptoms.

If you believe that you may have Leptospirosis please visit your nearest health centre or your doctor immediately.

To reduce the risk of Leptospirosis, members of the public are advised to:

• Avoid contact with animal urine, especially if you have cuts or abrasions of the skin.

• Avoid contact with potentially contaminated water (e.g. streams, rivers and ponds)

• If working in areas that may be prone to contamination, wear protective clothing such as boots, aprons, eye protection, or face masks.

• Consume only clean drinking water

• Inspect food carefully to determine if it may have come into contact with flood water. Discard open containers, packages and foods contained in bags, paper, cloth, fiber or cardboard boxes e.g. flour, cereal, rice even if the packages were sealed.

• Throw away fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and meat that may have come into contact with flood waters.

Members of the public in need of assistance in this regard should contact their County Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) office.

SYMPTOMS

In humans, Leptospirosis can cause a wide range of symptoms, including:
• High fever
• Headache
• Chills
• Muscle aches
• Vomiting
• Jaundice
(yellow skin and eyes)
• Red eyes
• abdominal pain
• Diarrhea
• Rash

Source: www.guardian.co.tt

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