Leptospirosis: A Growing Concern for the Ministry of Health

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Leptospirosis is of great concern to the Ministry of Health.

This was disclosed at a press briefing by the Ministry today at its Headquarters.

According to Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Joy St. John, there is more than one strain of Leptospirosis and the bacteria is not only spread by rats and mice but can be transmitted through other animals such as lizards, monkeys, dogs, mosquitos, toads, mice, goats, sheep, cattle and pigs, among others.

She added: "The risk factors associated with Leptospirosis are all dependent on the level of exposure…We realised from our information that a high risk of exposure is usually directly related to your occupation, the environment you live in or your lifestyle." She noted that the main occupational groups at risk included farm and agricultural workers, pet shop workers, veterinarians, sewer workers, abattoir workers, meat handlers and the military."

Dr. St. John explained that the potentially serious bacterial illness could enter the body through broken skin or through ingestion. She indicated that it was characterised by fever, headache, chills, nausea and vomiting and eye inflammation. Moreover, she said in severe cases, the illness could cause yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, which is indicative of liver damage caused by jaundice. ??Persons could also experience kidney failure and internal bleeding, she noted.

The CMO, therefore, encouraged individuals experiencing these symptoms to seek medical attention immediately. Dr. St. John stated that since the last reported case of leptospirosis, there had been two more deaths, in quick succession, due to the illness.

The CMO further advised persons that hospitalisation would be necessary if there were signs of low blood pressure, decreased urine output, yellowing of the skin and eyes, spitting blood, breathlessness, irregular pulse and altered levels of consciousness.

The Ministry of Health has urged members of the public to take care of their surroundings and to exercise care when in high risk areas.

alyson.holder@barbados.gov.bb

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