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Leptospirosis in Fiji

19 Feb 2021

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services in Fiji have reported 160 cases of leptospirosis and 5 confirmed deaths as of 13th February 2021, which is above the expected level for this time of the year throughout the nation.

The climate in Fiji is tropical and the wet season runs from November-April. This can result in flooding caused by heavy rains and cyclones which can occasionally lead to outbreaks of leptospirosis.

Advice for Travellers

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans from the urine of infected animals (often rodents). Infection often occurs from water contaminated by infected animal urine.

Travellers at increased risk include:

  • those involved in outdoor water sports such as white-water rafting, adventure racing, kayaking or triathlon events, particularly following heavy rains or flooding
  • individuals wading/swimming through flood water or swimming or washing in contaminated water
  • Farmers, veterinarians, sewage workers and fish farmers are at occupational risk.

If you are travelling to an area where there has been an outbreak of leptospirosis, you should:

  • be aware of the risk and avoid exposure to fresh water especially after heavy rains and floods, when contamination is more likely.
  • always protect your skin when travelling, particularly in tropical climates. All cuts, scratches and open skin lesions should be covered with waterproof plasters.
  • avoid swallowing or drinking water that could be infected.
  • wear protective clothing (wet suits and goggles) especially footwear, for example, waders if the risk is considered high and exposure is unavoidable.  Careful washing and showering after possible exposure may be helpful.

There is no vaccine available in the UK to protect against leptospirosis.

See the fitfortravel Leptospirosis page for further information.