HONOLULU (KHON) – Have you ever heard of Leptospirosis? It’s a bacterial disease that impacts humans and animals in Hawaii.

The disease occurs all over the world but is most common in warm climates. Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle pain, sweating, vomiting and pain behind the eyes.

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Symptoms may last from a few days to several weeks. Although most cases are mild, some can be severe, causing acute liver and kidney failure.

You can get Leptospirosis by swimming or wading in freshwater puddles, ponds or streams contaminated with animal urine or coming into contact with wet soil or plants contaminated with animal urine. 

The bacteria will enter the body through broken skin or through the soft tissues of the inside of the mouth, nose, or eyes. Leptospirosis is not spread from person to person. 

While hiking to waterfalls in Hawaii you may notice signs warning people about this disease. 

According to Hawaii Department of Health, Leptospirosis is circulating in Hawaii. It is estimated that 100-200 cases of the disease are identified annually in the United States and approximately 50% of these cases occur in Hawaii. 

If you have symptoms of Leptospirosis and were exposed to infected water, it’s best to call your healthcare provider and ask for a blood test to determine if you have been infected.

You can avoid getting Leptospirosis by not getting in fresh water, ponds or streams in Hawaii especially if they have Leptospirosis signs nearby when you have an open cut or sores. 

Tips to avoid getting Leptospirosis

  • Do not swim or wade in any freshwater streams or ponds in Hawaii, especially when you have open cuts or sores.
  • Swimming with your head underwater also increases your risk of infection through the eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Do not drink pond or stream water without boiling or chemically treating it.
  • Wear gloves when disposing of dead animals and when gutting (cleaning) livestock or game animals.
  • Vaccinate farm animals and pets.

For more information on Leptospirosis head to the State of Hawaii department of Health’s website.