Montego Bay, October 11, 2019 – Jamaica – 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 flood waters 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 [from animal urine] can penetrate your skin,” he noted.
He said that parents should also ensure that children do not play in puddles when it rains.
Mr. Miller said 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.
Mr. Miller told JIS News that the health department has been utilising its weekly health programme, aired every Wednesday on a local radio station, to impart information about the dangers of leptospirosis.
“To build awareness, from time to time, we interview the Veterinary Public Health Inspector to share her perspective on leptospirosis and to give persons some tips as to what they ought to do.
“Additionally, we also use our food handlers’ clinic, as well as our regular clinics in our (health) facilities, to talk about [leptospirosis] and, from time to time, we go to our hospital in the outpatient area and engage persons,” he informed.
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.
Contact: Nichieta Sterling
Photo Caption: Gerald Miller: Health Promotion and Education Officer at the Westmoreland Health Department, Gerald Miller.
JIS File Photo