Eleven people have died due to leptospirosis since January with the youngest aged six, sparking warnings from the Ministry of Health for people to take care in light of heavy rains and flooding experienced in parts of Fiji.
The oldest person to have died was 56 years old, with the most deaths occurring in Itaukei males aged between 16 and 35 years.
“Delay in accessing care has been noted to contribute significantly to these adverse outcomes,” Fiji’s Permanent Secretary of Health Dr James Fong said.
“Members of the public must understand that to prevent leptospirosis, one should avoid wading or swimming in flooded waters, wear shoes when walking outside, and keep all food and drinks covered and away from rats. Also, early treatment can decrease the severity and duration of disease and this entails initiating antibiotic treatment as soon as possible without waiting for laboratory results. With the widespread rain and flooding around the country, the public is requested to please consult a doctor early if you are sick, especially if you have a fever and remain unwell for more than 3 days and don’t seem to be responding to outpatient treatment.”
Since January, Fiji recorded a total of 74 cases. Of these 28 were hospitalised, 19 were admitted to Lautoka Hospital.
The Ministry of Health has since convened the communicable disease committee to assist divisional command centres in responding to cases of leptospirosis, typhoid, and dengue fever, including raising awareness amongst the public and providing refresher training for medical professionals in primary care for early diagnosis and treatment.
Additionally, it has deployed specialist outreach teams to areas that are viewed as difficult to reach and at risk, with a FEMAT team deployed to Navosa, and a mobile team led by Minister for Health Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete visit communities on Kadavu island over the next few days as part of the ministry’s community engagement strategy.