Leptospirosis – France
74 cases of leptospirosis have been reported in 2021 on the island of Reunion.
Normally, only 50 cases are identified per year. This surge in cases is the result of an unusually wet rain season. Heavy rain episodes promote soil leaching and environmental contamination and are therefore particularly risky periods.
Most of the confirmed cases required hospitalization.
Photo: Electron micrograph of leptospira bacteria.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals. In humans, it can cause a wide range of symptoms, some of which may be mistaken for other diseases. Some infected persons, however, may have no symptoms at all.
Signs and symptoms can range from none to mild (headaches, muscle pains, and fevers) to severe (bleeding in the lungs or meningitis).
The bacteria are spread to humans through animal urine, or water and soil contaminated with animal urine, coming into contact with the eyes, mouth, nose or breaks in the skin.
Without treatment, Leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death.
The disease was historically known as "rice field jaundice" in ancient Chinese texts, "autumn fever", "seven-day fever", and "nanukayami fever" in Japan. The bacterium causing the disease was identified in 1908 in Japan.
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