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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Leptospirosis in Sri Lanka

16 Jan 2013

As of 07 Jan 2013, high numbers of cases of leptospirosis have been reported from the three districts Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara in the Western Province.

High numbers of cases have also been reported in Kegalle, Kurunegala, Ratnapura, Matara and Galle. In addition, cases have been reported in Polonnaruwa district. The health authorities have issued a warning of a possible outbreak of leptospirosis in flood-affected areas.

Advice for Travellers

Leptospirosis is caused by contact with fresh water, wet soil, or vegetation that has been contaminated by urine of animals that are chronically infected. The infection is transmitted through unhealed breaks in the skin, the eyes, or the mucous membranes. Rats, dogs, cattle, and pigs are the usual reservoirs for this organism. Leptospirosis occurs worldwide and frequently follows flooding after heavy rains.

Travellers may be at risk if swimming or engaging in water sports in infected fresh water or wading through flood water.