Leptospirosis cases confirmed in UK

In the United Kingdom, four cases of leptospirosis were confirmed in the UK during the first three months of 2022, including two reported in the South West, one in London and one in the East of the country. The cases involved men between the ages of 28 and 69: one related to canal water, 2 related to exposure to rats, and one case to exposure to farm animals. There were also 23 likely cases of the disease nationwide in the first quarter of 2022, according to the National Health Service (NHS).

Reminder about leptospirosis.

Leptospirosis is a disease caused by bacteria worldwide. Leptospirosis caused by bacteria Leptospira’s interrogator. This is quite easily maintained in the external environment (fresh water, muddy soil), promoting pollution. The seasonal nature of the disease is pronounced, with summer-autumn outbreaks associated with temperature and rainfall.

bacteria of the genus Leptospira capable of infecting a large number of species of wild mammals (rodents and insectivores: rats, tengues, shrews, etc.) and domestic animals (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, dogs), they act as reservoirs and excrete them in the urine. Bacteria can survive for several months in a warm, humid environment. There are more than 250 serovars of Leptospira species, with some serovars endemic to a certain geographical area.

Certain occupations (farmers, livestock, sewer workers, garbage collectors, etc.) and people who practice water sports (swimming, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hunting, canyoning, etc.) are especially at risk. In humans, the bacteria enter mainly through injured skin or mucous membranes.

The disease is usually mild, but complications can occur, including kidney failure which can lead to death in 5 to 20% of cases. The incubation period lasts from 4-14 days.

  • In the moderate form, the disease begins with a high fever accompanied by chills, headache, and diffuse myalgia and arthralgia. In 20% of cases, it is complicated by hemorrhagic syndrome.
  • Severe forms (icterohaemorrhagic or Weil’s disease) are associated with acute renal failure, neurological impairment (convulsions, coma) and profuse bleeding (pulmonary, gastrointestinal).

Nonspecific initial clinical signs (headache, fever, myalgia) can lead to delays in diagnosis and treatment by confusion with differential diagnoses such as influenza, chikungunya, or dengue.

Precautions and personal protection against leptospirosis:

  • Avoid bathing in fresh water, especially when injured and when the water is cloudy or cloudy;
  • Avoid contact with water, nose, mouth and eyes;
  • Avoid walking barefoot or wearing open sandals on muddy ground, standing water, ravines (especially in surgical departments);
  • Protect the wound from contact with water with a waterproof dressing;
  • Wear protective equipment when:

high-risk occupational activities (animal husbandry, drainage workers, garbage collectors, farming, land work) etc….) including boots, gloves, wading gear, protective clothing, even clear splash goggles forecasted risk cases;
practice white water sports like canyoning, kayaking, including wetsuits protective gear, booties and gloves;

  • Control rodents, which are reservoirs of disease.

After taking the risk:

  • Wash with potable water and disinfect the wound;
  • Consult a doctor immediately in the event of the appearance of symptoms, informing him of the risky operation carried out in the previous two weeks.

These measures will be strengthened during the rainy season.
There is a vaccine against leptospirosis. Its effectiveness is limited to certain strains of leptospira, it is rarely done in practice, mainly involving specialists.

Source: ProMED.

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