Westmoreland residents urged to take steps against leptospirosis

Health Promotion and Education Officer at the Westmoreland Health Department, Gerald Miller (Photo: JIS)

The Westmoreland Health Department has beefed up its public education campaign to sensitise the public about the dangers of leptospirosis.

Health Promotion and Education Officer, Gerald Miller, told JIS News that while there is no outbreak of the disease in the parish, the department has to be proactive in light of the recent heavy rains.

As such, he is cautioning persons against wading in floodwaters that might have been contaminated with animal urine.

“We have been having some heavy downpours and I have seen persons wading in waters in Savanna-la-Mar and its environs. We just want to remind persons that by wading in contaminated water, the germs can penetrate your skin,” he noted.

He cautioned that parents should also ensure that children do not play in puddles when it rains.

Miller further argued that sugar cane workers and persons who live near sugar cane fields should take particular care.

“They are at a greater risk… Rats tend to traverse cane fields and persons might come into contact with contaminated cane. As a result, they might end up getting the germs in their system,” he noted.

“We have been told by residents that in the cane harvesting time, the rats tend to migrate from the cane fields and move towards their drainage,” he added.

He said that individuals who work with or handle animals are also at risk.

Leptospirosis is an infectious disease caused by the leptospira bacteria that could lead to possible fatal infection of the kidney, liver, brain, lung or heart.

While it cannot be spread from human to human, it can be contracted through exposure to the urine or body fluids of infected animals.