While it is yet to be confirmed that the viral influenza-type outbreak among persons in Matthew’s Ridge is that of leptospirosis, Public Health officials have thus far been able to rule out Swine Flu (H1N1), Zika, Chikungunya, Dengue, Influenza A and B as possible causes.
According to a statement issued by the Public Health Ministry, the recent spate of illnesses and death in Mathew’s Ridge has thus far shown no evidence of person to person transmission of infection. It is noted that only persons who were directly exposed to one common area became ill.
As of the Sunday March 31, a response team comprising of the Environmental Protection Agency, Surveillance, Environmental Health, doctors and nurses were dispatched to Region One to support the efforts taken in the region to address the outbreak. The fortified health response focuses on, among other things: providing uninterrupted health services to the residents of Mathew’s Ridge and on conducting health assessments of all persons working in the mining area.
According to health officials, “The decision was taken to transfer all the patients with the acute respiratory illness, rash, and fever to our tertiary institution GPHC where critical care can be provided should the need arise.”
While the specialists continue to work on the seven patients admitted on Saturday, results have shown that two patients tested positive for leptospirosis which is known to be spread by direct contact with rat urine or feces. Further tests are being conducted locally and samples will be sent overseas with support from PAHO and CARPHA to get further tests done to rule out other possible infections.
“We are taking all necessary precautions to ensure staff and members of the community at Mathew’s Ridge are kept safe,” the Ministry has assured.
Meanwhile, the mining company has been instructed to halt further exploration until the Ministry and a team from the Occupational Health and Safety department of the Ministry of Social Protection advice further. Added to this, the Public Health Ministry has committed, along with partners, to continue to monitor the situation closely until a resolution is derived.
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.