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Floods trigger 'flu-like' disease

By Alyse Edwards, Monday February 25, 2013 - 09:41 EDT

Two cases of leptospirosis have been diagnosed in the wake of flooding in southern Queensland's Wide Bay region.

Public health physician Dr Margaret Young says the disease occurs when humans come into contact with the urine of infected rodents.

She says it is common to see a few cases after floods and residents should wear protective clothing when cleaning up.

"You prevent yourself from getting this disease by wearing boots and gloves, proper clothing and covering any cuts or wounds," she said.

"If you do have cuts or scratches from cleaning up, wash them well with soap and water - put on an antiseptic and seek medical attention.

"Leptospirosis in its initial phase causes flu-like illness, fevers, people feel unwell."

She says it is an "very unpleasant" disease to have, but there is treatment available.

"It enters the body through wounds in the skin, so cuts and scratches, so walking through floodwater that's been contaminated by the urine of infected animals is the way you get this infection," she said.

"It's one of the reasons why we recommend that people wear boots when they're anywhere near floodwater or flood affected areas, so as I said we've seen a couple of cases but it's not at a worrisome level."


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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