Officials warn of bacterial risk in river activities

As the long hot summer of Okinawa continues, the Prefecture Health and Longevity Division is calling for public’s attention to a risk of being infected by leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that can affect both humans and animals.

In humans, it can cause a wide range of symptoms, some of which may be mistaken for other diseases. Some infected persons, however, may have no symptoms at all. Without treatment, the infection can lead to kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death.

According to Okinawa Health officials, 10 people, all of whom had been engaged in in river activities, were reported infected since June, seven of them in August. The infected persons range from a child under 10 to people in their 50’s. Four of them were likely to infected in the northern part of Okinawa main island, one on Ishigaki and five on Iriomote Island. One person is assumed infected whole working on a rice paddy.

Leptospirosis is a type of bacterial infection spread by wild animals like mice or mongooses. If urine from an infected animal drains into a river or lake, the bacteria can survive there. The bacteria can enter the human body through skin cuts and the mucous membranes.

The Prefecture Health and Longevity Division advises people to refrain from water activities in bodies of fresh water if they skin cuts. Anyone suffering from above mentioned symptoms within two weeks of a water activity, should visit a doctor as soon as possible.


08:12 17 Apr , 2024