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Leptospirosis in the Philippines

12 April 2023

Media quoting the the Philippines Department of Health reported 1015 cases (85 deaths) of leptospirosis from 1 January 2023 to 18 March 2023.

Case numbers have increased compared to last year in 16 of the Philippines' 17 regions. Western Visayas has reported most cases (212), Cagayan Valley region (128), Central Visayas (89) and Zamboanga Peninsula (87).

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans from the urine of infected animals (often rodents). Infection often occurs from water contaminated by infected animal urine.

Advice for Travellers

Travellers participating in adventure/ecotourism, water-based sports activities, athletic endurance events, mountain biking and military exercises have an increased chance of exposure, especially if travelling to high-risk destinations. Veterinarians and humanitarian relief/aid workers are at risk when travelling overseas to work.

Travellers at increased risk should be advised:

  • of the risk of infection and to seek medical help after potential exposure if they become symptomatic
  • to avoid exposure to potentially contaminated water especially of mucosa (swallowing/inhaling water) and abraded skin (including excoriated insect bites)
  • to wear protective clothing if exposure is unavoidable
  • to cover open skin lesions with waterproof plasters and wash/disinfect any injuries sustained during possible exposure
  • to wash/shower thoroughly after possible exposure

No licensed vaccine is available in the UK for leptospirosis.

For further information, see TRAVAX Leptospirosis page.