The Ministry of Health is alerting members of the public about the increase in the number of cases of leptospirosis detected in Barbados within recent months.????

During the period from June 19 to December 3, 31 cases of leptospirosis were confirmed, as compared with the period from January 1 to June 18, when only six cases were recorded. Only one death was reported as a result of contracting the disease.

The increase in cases during the latter months may be attributed to the higher levels of rainfall, as ground water and flooding could help spread the bacteria. Persons acquire leptospirosis by being in contact with ground water, wet soil, vegetation or foods that have been contaminated with the urine of infected animals such as rats and mice. Consequently, avoiding such contact should aid in prevention.

Bacteria usually enters the body through mucous membranes or broken skin and through consuming contaminated food. Once in the bloodstream, the bacteria can reach all parts of the body and cause illness.

Symptoms of leptospirosis include fever, headache, chills, nausea and vomiting, eye inflammation, and muscle aches. In more severe cases, the illness could result in liver damage and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes), kidney failure, and internal bleeding. People who are seriously ill with leptospirosis may be at risk of death and will often need to be hospitalised.

Protective clothing, such as waterproof gloves?? and boots should be worn?? at all times when participating in outdoor?? work?? or recreational activities, such as gardening?? and construction work,?? since these?? may cause unintentional exposure to?? contaminated water.

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