Deaths due to leptospirosis increase five-fold in Dominican Republic

Health authorities have reported 502 suspected cases of leptospirosis, including 42 deaths. The number of deaths has increased five-fold due to the almost constant rains that have created muddy, stagnant water during the last 2 months after hurricane MATTHEW.

Visit our Health Library for more information on exposure to and the prevention of Leptospirosis.

Advice For Travellers

The risk of exposure for the average traveller is low. However, muddy, stagnant water is often contaminated with rodent waste that carries leptospirosis organisms.

Leptospirosis is acquired through skin exposure (especially if there are open wounds) to water or damp soil that has been contaminated by an infected animal's urine. For travellers, this exposure usually occurs through recreational water activities, like whitewater rafting, swimming, kayaking or during floods. The risk of acquiring leptospirosis is higher after a period of heavy rains or floods. Travellers can reduce the risk of exposure to leptospirosis during floods or heavy rainfall by avoiding contact with flood waters, e.g., wearing waterproof boots and other protective clothing.