A training course for health professionals aiming at increasing knowledge and skills in surveillance and control of leptospirosis in the region took place in Noumea this week at the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Pasteur Institute of New Caledonia (IPNC).
Leptospirosis is an infection caused by corkscrew-shaped bacteria called Leptospira. More than 1 million cases of leptospirosis are reported every year resulting in the loss of 60,000 lives worldwide. The impact of leptospirosis is not only limited to humans. The disease also causes economic impacts related to a reduction in productivity among infected livestock resulting to loss of the household’ earning capacity. Recent global studies point to Oceania as the region of highest incidence, and the impact of climate change is likely to increase its prevalence throughout the region.
Leptospirosis is an infectious, sometimes fatal disease that is transmitted from animals to humans by infected urine through the environment. Infection can occur through breaks in the skin or through the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose or mouth.
The wide range of leptospirosis symptoms (high fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, vomiting, jaundice, red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea and rash) and their poor specificity can be mistaken for other diseases like dengue fever or influenza.
Without treatment, the disease can lead to serious complications (e.g. kidney and liver failure) and even death. It is therefore crucial that people, who feel sick with a fever and think they have the disease, quickly consult a doctor.