Leptospirosis in Ariege, France

21 September 2021

Article: 55/3804

As of 10 September 2021, public health authorities have reported approximately ten cases of leptospirosis in the Ariege department of France, a mountainous area near the border with Spain. All people infected were involved in water activities in the River Argensou at Auzat, and anyone who becomes unwell after fishing, swimming or canyoning in the area have been advised to seek medical attention.

Advice for travellers 

  • Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans from the urine of infected animals, often rodents. Infection often occurs from water contaminated by infected animal urine. 
  • Travellers participating in adventure or ecotourism, water-based sports activities, athletic endurance events, mountain biking, and military exercises have an increased chance of exposure, especially if travelling to high-risk destinations.

No licensed vaccine is available in the UK for leptospirosis.

Travellers at increased risk of leptospirosis are advised: 

  • to be aware of the risk of infection and to seek medical help if they become symptomatic 
  • to avoid exposure to potentially contaminated water especially of mucosa (swallowing or inhaling water) and abraded skin, including excoriated insect bites 
  • to wear protective clothing if exposure is unavoidable 
  • to cover open skin lesions with waterproof plasters and wash and disinfect any injuries sustained during possible exposure 
  • to wash or shower thoroughly after possible exposure

Information and advice for travellers on leptospirosis is available from the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.

Source: TRAVAX, 10 September 2021