The Travel Health and Vaccine Specialists

Leptospirosis in Fiji

Key Points

  • There is an outbreak of leptospirosis in Fiji.
  • Travelers should avoid contact with potentially contaminated fresh water (such as lakes and rivers in the affected area) while swimming, wading, kayaking, or rafting.

What is leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a disease spread by animal urine. People get infected when they come in contact with urine of infected animals or with water, soil, or food that is contaminated with urine.

Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, jaundice (yellow eyes and skin), red eyes, and skin rash. Without treatment, this disease can cause kidney or liver failure, meningitis (swelling of the tissue covering the brain), bleeding in the lungs, and even death.

What is the current situation?

Health officials in Fiji have reported an outbreak of leptospirosis in the Central Division of Fiji. In response to the outbreak, the Fiji Ministry of Health is working to manage the situation, increase surveillance, and conducting household inspections.

Who is at risk for leptospirosis?

Travelers at highest risk are those exposed to contaminated fresh water (such as lakes and rivers in affected areas) while swimming, wading, kayaking, or rafting. Leptospirosis is also a potential hazard for adventure travelers; travelers who spend time around animals, such as veterinarians and animal caretakers; agricultural workers; and humanitarian aid workers.

What can travelers do to prevent leptospirosis?

Travelers to Fiji should take the following steps to prevent leptospirosis:

  • Avoid contact with water or soil that may be contaminated with animal urine. Don’t wade, swim in, drink, or swallow water from lakes or rivers that may be contaminated.
  • Cover any cuts or scratches with waterproof bandages.
  • Do not walk outside barefoot. Wear waterproof protective clothing, especially footwear, if you must have contact with water or wet soil that might be contaminated.
  • Talk to your health care provider about taking medicine to help prevent leptospirosis if you cannot avoid contact with potentially contaminated water or soil. Be sure to tell your health care provider about all your planned activities.
  • There is no vaccine to prevent leptospirosis.

If you get sick during or after travel

  • If you feel sick during travel: Seek medical care immediately. Leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics, which are most effective when given early during illness.
  • If you get sick after returning to the United States: Seek medical care immediately. Tell them about your travel and that you think you have been exposed to contaminated water.

Traveler Information

Clinician Information

File Formats Help:

How do I view different file formats (PDF, DOC, PPT, MPEG) on this site?