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Leptospirosis in Puerto Rico

25 Oct 2017

On 24 October 2017, Dr. Carmen Deseda, the State Epidemiologist for Puerto Rico reported via media Link 76 cases of leptospirosis, including 2 deaths in the month after Hurricane Maria.

Leptospirosis occurs in most countries and can be transmitted by contact with, or drinking water contaminated with animal urine. An increase in case numbers may occur following flooding.

Advice for Travellers

  • Be aware of the risk and avoid exposure to contaminated water where possible.
  • Always protect the skin when travelling, particularly in tropical climates. All cuts, scratches and open skin lesions should be covered with waterproof plasters.
  • Do not swallow or drink water that could be infected.
  • If the risk is considered high and exposure unavoidable, protective clothing (wet suits and goggles) should be worn, especially footwear e.g. waders.
  • Careful washing and showering after possible exposure may be helpful. 
  • There is no vaccine available in the UK to protect against leptospirosis.

For further information see Leptospirosis.