Leptospirosis, gastroenteritis alerts

The Ministry of Health yesterday issued alerts about leptospirosis and gastroenteritis, urging the public to look out for associated symptoms after the country was battered by rains over the past few days.

In two different health advisories, the ministry reminded the public of the dangers of swimming or wading in water which has resulted from flooding, or eating foods that might have been contaminated with animal urine.

In the advisory about leptospirosis, the ministry singled out parents and caregivers, advising them to ensure that children do not play in these waters or eat such foods that may be affected, as they can easily be infected with diseases such as leptospirosis.

“This can occur by swallowing the contaminated food or water or through contact with the eyes, nose or through broken skin,” the release said. “Symptoms of leptospirosis include high fever, severe headache, chills, muscle aches, vomiting, jaundice, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and rash.”

Parents are being advised that if any of these symptoms occur, they should seek medical attention immediately as leptospirosis should be treated with antibiotics. However, the ministry said if the disease is not treated, the person can develop kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, and respiratory distress, and in rare cases, death.

Leptospirosis is an infectious disease caused by leptospira bacteria and is transmitted to humans from domestic animals such as dogs, cattle, pigs, and horses as well as rodents. The disease is not spread from person to person.

The health ministry also reminded people who are exposed to contaminated water or soil because of the nature of their job, to wear protective clothing and footwear.

In the advisory on gastroenteritis, the ministry of health similarly singled out parents of small children, reminding them to pay particular attention to their children for signs of the condition following the persistent rainfall.

The symptoms of this illness include one or more of the following: Diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea and stomach upset. The affected person may also have headache, fever and abdominal cramps (stomach aches).

Gastroenteritis is a condition that causes irritation and inflammation of the stomach and intestines. An infection may be caused by bacteria or parasite in spoiled food, unclean water or dirty hands.

“Medication should not be used to stop the diarrhoea or vomiting,” the ministry advised. “Oral Rehydration Fluid (ORF) should be used to replace the water and special substances that are lost as a result of vomiting and/or diarrhoea.

”Continue to give ORF until the child gets better although this treatment will not stop or shorten the course of diarrhoea. Vomiting should stop within two days and the running belly should stop within a week. Continue to give lots of fluids to prevent dehydration,“ the release said.

According to the ministry, if a child is breastfed, continue breastfeeding your child frequently. In addition, other fluids such as coconut water, diluted fruit juices as well as plain water can also be given. Do not give sweet drinks.

Gastroenteritis can cause death, especially in young children less than five years old, the ministry said.

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