Leptospirosis warning issued over swimming in Okinawa rivers

The Okinawa Prefecture Health and Longevity Division has issued an alert to people about a possibility of contacting leptospirosis when swimming in the bodies of sweet water like rivers or ponds.

Officials say the infection tends to spread in Okinawa this time of the year.  They advise people who have cuts or abrasions on their skin to avoid swimming especially in rivers. The Prefectural Office has confirmed nine cases of the infection of patients who swam in rivers on Ishigaki and Iriomote islands. Three of them were confirmed to have developed the disease after returning to the mainland Japan.  None of the affected is in serious condition.

Leptospirosis is an infection caused by Leptospira type bacteria. Symptoms can range from none to mild, such as headaches, muscle pains, and fevers, to severe with bleeding from the lungs or meningitis. If the infection causes the person to turn yellow, have kidney failure and bleeding the condition is then known as Weil’s disease.