A comprehensive view on the issue of leptospirosis
Mundo Sano and the Foundation for the Promotion of Animal Health and Food Safety (PROSAIA) organized the workshop “A comprehensive view on the issue of leptospirosis”. More than 100 specialists attended the session where Dr. Jorge Bolpe and Dr. Exequiel Scialfa, from the Rural Zoonosis Service of the Ministry of Health of the province of Buenos Aires, journalist Nora Bär, from La Nación newspaper and Dr. Ramón Noceda, Director of Preventive Medicine of Florencio Varela Municipality, province of Buenos Aires, among others, made their presentations.
During the year 2010, more than 230 cases of this disease were officially reported. This figure is the greatest recorded since the hydric catastrophe that took place in Santa Fe in the year 2003, when 494 cases were confirmed—“for which we can assure that were are facing a worrying event in connection with this disease”, Sonia Tarragona, General Manager at Fundación Mundo Sano stressed.
Dr. Alfredo Seijo, Chief of Zoonosis Division at Muñiz hospital and scientific director of the workshop added that “in 2003, during the hydric catastrophe in Santa Fe, almost 500 cases were reported though none of them was fatal. In 2007—when heavy rainfalls took place in the central area of the country—720 cases were reported. If over 200 cases were reported by July 2010, it can be inferred that the figures are bolow the real ones”.
What is leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is a disease caused by a bacteria (leptospira) which urban rodents eliminate through their urine, contaminating the environment. The bacteria remains in the water and the wet medium and infects other animals and human beings through skin lesions or superficial mucosas. At the beginning, the clinical manifestations in humans can be taken by flu symptoms. This misinterpretation, together with the lack of information about the disease, in many cases delays the first consultation with the specialist.
“Absence of upper respiratory tract affections must be taken notice of. That is to say, it is a patient who presents with all or some of the symtoms enumerated, except mucosity, sneezing or coughing. These symptoms, the prodromes, do not generally last more than 6 days, and even though fever can cease with antipyretics, the person still feels ill. In fact, special care must be paid not to choose aspirin to lower the temperature since leptospirosis affects the platelets and aspirins are antiplatelet drugs". In Argentina, 65% of the patients are admitted to the hospital with neumonia; an important percentage gets worse and suffers pulmonary hemorrhage with respiratory distress, with mortality rates reaching half of the cases. Reporting and notification of leptospirosis is mandatory. Although there are vaccines for humans and (small and big) animals, their application is not compulsory.