Vila Times

Leptospirosis situation prompts urgent public health action

Leptospirosis situation prompts urgent public health action
Leptospirosis situation prompts urgent public health action
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Vanuatu’s Ministry of Health takes urgent public health actions to address the current leptospirosis (lepto) situation in the country.
Leptospirosis, a relatively rare bacterial infection can result in high fever, internal bleeding and organ failure. Globally it normally occurs after heavy rainfall and flooding when humans can become infected after exposure to water or soil contaminated with animal urine or other fluids.
“With northern islands affected recently by category 5 Tropical Cyclone Harold with flooding elsewhere, the Ministry of Health’s public health team is taking actions to ensure communities receive critical information to keep themselves and their families safe from this disease”, said the Director of Public Health of the Ministry of Health, Len Tarivonda.
Five samples collected on Santo Island by the Northern District Provincial Hospital and sent for laboratory testing in Noumea, New Caledonia, four were confirmed positive for lepto. Case verification and investigation to all contacted suspected cases was done by the Sanma Rural surveillance team along with environmental health assessment on transmission routes. Ongoing awareness on preventive measures are given to all homes with Leptospirosis cases.
“The best way to prevent being infected with Leptospirosis is to wear protective clothing like boots and gloves when in contact with soil or water that may be infected. This is particularly important if the skin is broken,” stated Director Tarivonda.
People showing signs including acute fever illness with headache and muscles aches, associated with any of the symptoms of lepto are encouraged to seek medical care from their nearest health facility as soon as possible. Common signs and symptoms to look out for include: a flu-like illness with high fever, headache, muscle pains, red eye, sore throat and rash. Lepto can be treated effectively with antibiotics.
“Early detection and management of leptospirosis infection are key to treating this illness”, stated Director Tarivonda. “Anyone who has symptoms of lepto infection must visit their nearest healthcare facility immediately for testing and follow up,” he added.
The Ministry of Health continues to monitor the situation in Luganville, Santo, and across the country through its national disease surveillance programme.