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Authorities warning about infection: Thailand travelers should avoid certain waters


Leptospirosis: Warning of dangerous infectious disease in Thailand

In some regions of Thailand, the dangerous infectious disease leptospirosis has spread after violent flooding. Travelers should therefore stay away from certain waters. Contact with potentially infected animals should also be avoided.

Health risks in the vacation paradise

Thailand is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. Every year millions of tourists travel to the Southeast Asian country to relax on dream beaches, visit ancient temples and enjoy the wonderful food. However, various health risks from tropical diseases also threaten in the holiday paradise. The CRM Center for Travel Medicine is currently pointing out a danger from leptospirosis. The dangerous infectious disease has spread widely in recent weeks.

Almost 50 deaths

According to Thai authorities, 2,425 leptospirosis diseases have already been registered in the country this year. The disease led to the death of the infected in 47 cases.

The reason for the sharp increase in infections is considered to be flooding due to the severe storms in eastern and central Thailand, including Bangkok.

Like Dr. Jessada Chokdamrongsuk of the Thai Ministry of Health said in a message published on the ReliefWeb portal that the disease is not life-threatening if it is treated promptly.

Avoid direct contact with fresh water

Leptospires are bacteria that can survive in water and mud for a long time.

According to media reports, Professor Tomas Jelinek, Scientific Director of the CRM Center for Travel Medicine, said: "The bacteria get into the environment through the urine of infected rodents, but also from domestic and farm animals such as dogs, pigs and cattle."

"Your infectivity will probably persist for months," said the expert.

Humans can become infected either through direct contact with pathogen-containing urine or through contact with a contaminated environment. The bacteria enter the body via skin lesions or the mucous membranes.

"Travelers, especially backpackers and expedition participants, should avoid direct contact with fresh water and mud in the affected areas," said Professor Jelinek.

Such contact can also occur during sports activities such as waterfall climbing or swimming. Tourists should also stay away from animals.

Most of the diseases are mild

According to medical experts, the majority of the diseases are mild: after an incubation period of a few days to two weeks, flu-like symptoms such as high fever, chills, and severe muscle and headache occur.

Reddened mucous membranes and conjunctivitis (conjunctivitis) often occur.

"Depending on the pathogen, temporary improvement in the 2nd week leads to meningitis or jaundice with life-threatening liver and kidney dysfunction and a tendency to bleed," wrote the CRM Center for Travel Medicine on its website.

If the lungs or brain are affected, bronchitis, meningitis or meningoencephalitis can occur. "Then antibiotic therapy should be given as soon as possible," said Jelinek.

Without treatment, two to ten percent of the diseases are fatal.

Infections also in Germany

"Although leptospirosis has the highest incidence in tropical and subtropical countries, there is a small but fairly constant occurrence even in countries with a temperate, western European climate," writes the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

According to the experts, between 37 and 166 cases of leptospirosis have been reported to the RKI in Germany every year since 2000.

“On average, more than three quarters of the transmitted infections in Germany were acquired. Due to the often unspecific clinical symptoms of leptospirosis, however, it can be assumed that there is a clear undisclosed number, ”said the experts. (ad)

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