Bacterial disease on the rise in Aussie state

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SYDNEY, May 13 (Xinhua) — The Australian state of Queensland has witnessed a spike in the bacterial disease leptospirosis as the state recorded 78 cases so far the year, compared to 41 for the same period last year.

Its symptoms include fever, severe headaches, muscle aches, chills, vomiting, and red eyes, and the disease usually develops after five to 14 days following infection.

Queensland Health spokesman Professor Keith McNeil said on Thursday the disease was caused by bacteria found in urine from infected animals including rats, mice, cattle, pigs and dogs, and was most common during warmer months in tropical and subtropical areas such as northern Queensland.

He said the bacteria entered the body through skin cuts or abrasions or through the mouth, nose or eyes by exposure to contaminated water, soil or mud.

McNeil said agricultural workers were most at risk but it could also be caught by drinking or swimming in creeks, rivers or lakes contaminated by the urine of infected animals.

He warned there were many strains of the leptospira bacteria, so it was possible to be repeatedly infected.

Leptospirosis is treatable with antibiotics but early diagnosis is vital.

“Serious disease such as meningitis, kidney failure, bleeding and respiratory complications can develop from leptospirosis infection if it’s not treated promptly,” McNeil said.

Queensland health department recommended ways to avoid the disease including covering cuts and abrasions with waterproof dressing, thorough hand hygiene and wearing gloves and boots when working with animals or gardening.

Water should be boiled if it is from a possibly contaminated source and people are advised to avoid swimming or wading in water if there is a chance of contamination from animal urine or floodwater runoff. Enditem

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