Flood waters contaminated by infectious zoonotic disease

Image: Courtesy S Prins

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease transmitted to humans from domestic and wild animals including mice and rats, livestock, pigs and wildlife. In Australia it is relatively rare however, severe flooding across NSW and Southern Queensland has meant contaminated water and mud has spread across properties. People exposed to flood waters, mud, soil or plants that have been contaminated are at risk of contracting the disease. The organism which usually enters the body through skin and can be treated with antibiotics if detected early.

However, damage caused by the floods means people are needing to be involved in rescues, repairs and clean-up work, making avoiding flood waters almost impossible. Residents in Lismore feel they have been left stranded and without medical supplies. Experts suggesting anyone who is involved in clean-ups should wear protective clothing and keep wounds clean. Symptoms include fever, chills,headaches, muscle aches, cough, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and conjunctivitis.

Further information about Leptospirosis safety can be found at safework.nsw.gov.au/safety-alerts/safety-alerts/bacterial-infection-leptospirosis


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