FIGHTING LEPTOSPIROSISf

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EDITORIAL

Fiji Times Suva, Fiji Islands

FIGHTING LEPTOSPIROSIS

Leptospirosis, a relatively unknown disease until three years ago, is still here and killing people.

It has again claimed four lives in the north. Health authorities fear the number is rising. Doctor Ami Chand of the Labasa Hospital says they have so far attended to 13 cases. When the disease first struck, people took little notice because it was new.

Now Dr. Chand says the trend is alarming and drastic action needs to be taken to control it. Leptospirosis is spread from animals to humans through direct contact with the contaminated urine of infected animals.

The disease can be carried by both wild and domestic animals including pigs, cattle, dogs, cats and rats.

These are animals many people come into contact with daily. The disease is curable in the early stages but death and severe multi-organ disease can develop if proper medical procedures are not followed. People are also advised not to swim or wade in contaminated streams and rivers.

Once the disease is detected, it is easy to cure but it takes time for the patient to know if he or she is infected.

The symptoms include fever, headache, chills, flu and severe muscle pains in the calves and thighs, and bloodshot eyes.

Other safety precautions include: covering of all cuts and abrasions with waterproof dressing; thorough washing hands and arms in soapy water after handling live animals; and avoiding hand to mouth, nose and eye contact while handling animals which have been infected. These are basic precautions about which people must be informed.

While for some unknown reason the disease is mostly confined to the north, it is essential and wise that health authorities conduct an extensive national awareness program.

It is the Government's duty to educate the people about safe health standards and it should act quickly on this one.

We delay any awareness program at our own peril.

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times.

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