The Republic of Fiji Reports Leptospirosis Outbreak

Fiji Travel Alert issued for Leptospirosis outbreak
fiji island beach
Fiji (Vax Before Travel)

Health officials from the Republic of Fiji have reported an outbreak of leptospirosis in the Central and Northern divisions. 

In response to this bacterial disease outbreak, the Fiji Ministry of Health recently announced it ‘is working to manage the situation, increasing disease surveillance, conducting clean-up and awareness campaigns.’

Fiji’s last Leptospirosis outbreak was reported in 2016.

To notify international travelers, the U.S. CDC issued a Level 1 Travel Alert for Fiji on September 25, 2020. ‘Travelers at the highest risk for infection are those exposed to contaminated fresh water while swimming, wading, kayaking, or rafting.’

Furthermore, the risk of leptospirosis increases after heavy rainfall and flooding.

Leptospirosis is also a potential hazard for adventure travelers who spend time around animals, such as veterinarians, animal caretakers, agricultural workers, and humanitarian aid workers.

Leptospirosis is a bacteria that can enter the human body through the skin or mucous membranes, such as eyes, nose, or mouth. People and animals can get infected with Leptospirosis when they are exposed to the urine of infected animals, says the CDC.

They can also get infected from water, soil, or food contaminated with infected animal urine.

Leptospirosis symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, jaundice, red eyes, and skin rash. Without treatment, leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death.

If you feel sick during travel, the CDC suggests seeking medical care immediately, as Leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics, which are most effective when taken early during illness.

Furthermore, after a trip abroad, if you get sick after returning to the USA, seek medical care immediately. And, tell the clinician about your travel and that you think you have been exposed to contaminated water.

The Republic of Fiji is an island country in Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,000 nautical miles northeast of New Zealand. Fiji consists of an archipelago of more than 330 islands and more than 500 islets, reports Britannica.

As of September 21, 2020, Fiji announced it has resumed most transportation options. 

If you decide to travel to Fiji, the US Department of State suggests the following action items; Visit the CDC’s webpage on Travel and COVID-19; Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency, and U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations, such as this Traveler’s Checklist.

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