Leptospirosis in Fiji

23 February 2021

Article: 55/0804

As of 13 February 2021, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services in Fiji has reported 160 cases of leptospirosis, including five confirmed deaths. These figures are above the expected level for this time of the year throughout the country.

The climate in Fiji is tropical and the wet season runs from November to April. This can result in flooding caused by heavy rains and cyclones, which can occasionally lead to outbreaks of leptospirosis.

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. Veterinarians and humanitarian relief or aid workers are at risk when travelling overseas to work.

No licensed vaccine is available in the UK for leptospirosis.

Travellers at increased risk of leptospirosis are advised: 

  • of the risk of infection and to seek medical help after potential exposure 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, 19 February 2021