PRO/AH/EDR> Leptospirosis – Peru (05): heavy rainfall, flooding, sewage, rat


A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Mon 5 Jun 2023
Source: Peru21 [in Spanish, machine trans., edited]

So far in 2023, more than 6700 cases of leptospirosis have been
registered nationwide, with the most affected regions being Loreto,
Ica, Tumbes, Madre de Dios and Piura, according to data from the
National Center for Epidemiology, Prevention and Control (CDC) of the
Ministry of Health (Minsa).

According to biologist Ernesto Berrocal, from Agroindustrial Products
and Services (PSAI), this disease is transmitted by animals, such as
rodents. The disease can infect people through direct contact with
water contaminated by the urine of these previously infected animals
by the bacterium called Leptospira interrogans.

This bacterium enters the body through the skin, mucous membranes or
orally and, according to Berrocal, dogs and rats are probably the most
common sources of transmission to humans.

The biologist also argued that, similar to dengue, leptospirosis
affects more vulnerable populations and those who live on the banks of
rivers and in conditions of overcrowding, accumulation of solid waste,
inadequate basic services and limited access to health services.

The Ministry of Health CDC report detailed that, up to epidemiological
week 20 (14 to 20 May 2023), a total of 6761 cases were registered
throughout the country, a figure much higher than the total number of
cases accumulated in 2022 (4928 cases) and in 2021 (3026 cases).

With the El Niño phenomenon, according to PSAI, cases of
leptospirosis could increase in regions affected by rains, so Berrocal
recommended not swimming or walking in water that may be contaminated
by animal urine, as well as not ingesting [contaminated water], and
wearing clothing and shoes near soil or water that may be

The symptoms of leptospirosis resemble dengue, influenza or other
viral diseases. Therefore, prompt diagnosis (clinical and laboratory)
is important to avoid serious cases. The most recommended treatment,
if confirmed, is with antibiotics and should be started as soon as

In any case, PSAI recommended people to not self-medicate and go to a
health facility if the following symptoms are present: fever, headache
and joint pain, nausea and vomiting, with the purpose of screening
them for dengue and leptospirosis.

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