JIS News

The Ministry of Health is reviewing data to ascertain the true number of cases of leptospirosis.”In another two weeks we should have some definite information on the exact number of cases of leptospirosis and how many deaths are associated with it,” Dr. Linnette Peters, Director of Veterinary Public Health in the Ministry of Health told JIS News.
The need for a review, she explained, was necessary as many persons were showing up with symptoms that mimicked leptospirosis but were not necessarily afflicted with the disease.
“We have had a lot of notifications and that is normal after the heavy rains but we also had other things happening during that time.we had dengue fever and even influenza and hepatitis A, so the problem was not just leptospirosis,” Dr. Peters said.
“It is yet for us to screen out the true cases versus those that are clinical presentations, meaning that they are similar to leptospirosis, but may in fact turn out to be hepatitis A or dengue or influenza by laboratory analysis,” she added.
In terms of parishes most affected, Dr. Peters cited St. Catherine, Manchester and Clarendon, as reporting the most suspected cases of the disease.
She pointed out that the disease was endemic to Jamaica, therefore the outbreak was not “something to be very alarmed about”. However, she said that since persons were constantly at risk, they needed to be aware of the preventive measures to protect themselves.
These measures include making sure that food is protected from rodents; desisting from wading or playing in stagnant water; wearing protective gloves while gardening, and practising proper hygiene such as washing hands before handling food.
“Remember that rats urinate and defecate anywhere and they are carriers of bacterium. They also roam gutters frequently, so if you are drinking water from a run off source, coming from the roof, for example, it is important that you boil that water,” she stressed.
While rats are the main carriers of leptospirosis, humans who come in contact with infected dogs, cattle and pigs can also contract the disease.