Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Public Health Awareness in Belize - Deadly Leptospirosis Virus

Michael Winston Lewis
Health authorities are investigating reports that four people may have died in recent weeks due to a bacterial infection known as leptospirosis – carried by cattle, pigs, horses, dogs, and wild animals, but most notably by rats, particularly in light of concerns that flood conditions may result in an outbreak of the potentially fatal disease.

Several cases of leptospirosis were reported in Belize City in 2000, after Hurricane Keith. In 2006, businessman Ramon “Moncho” Galvez contracted leptospirosis after eating from a loaf of bread bought at a Chinese store. He did not realize, until after having eaten some of it, that rats had bitten through the pack of bread.

Last week, on New Year’s Day 2014, a former traffic officer succumbed to the disease.
“Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals. It is caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira. In humans, it can cause a wide range of symptoms, some of which may be mistaken for other diseases. Some infected persons, however, may have no symptoms at all.

“Without treatment, Leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death,” notes the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Family members confirmed today that Michael Winston Lewis, 47, who lived on Castle Street in Belize City, will be laid to rest after funeral services scheduled to take place at 1:00 p.m. at Ebenezer Methodist Church in Belize City.

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