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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Leptospirosis in Japan

04 Oct 2016

On 28 September 2016 the Okinawa Prefecture Health and Longevity Division reported that 10 children (students) and 1 woman (teacher) became infected with leptospirosis by swimming in Okuma River in Kunigami Village. Prefecture health officials assert that most leptospirosis infections in Japan occur in Okinawa Prefecture.

Advice for Travellers

Leptospirosis infection occurs worldwide but human cases are more common in tropical climates, areas where the standard of hygiene is poor and frequently follows flooding after heavy rains.

Leptospirosis is transmitted via 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.

Travellers should be aware of the risk and avoid exposure to contaminated water where possible.