13 Apr 2006

Leptospirosis warning in American Samoa

3:17 pm on 13 April 2006

An epidemiologist in American Samoa says community awareness about leptospirosis is important.

The disease is regarded as a major health concern in the territory and has claimed at least four lives in the last three years.

Awareness of the disease is being promoted at Environment Week this week.

The disease is caused by a bacteria that is carried by animals such as pigs.

A Department of Health Epidemiologist, Jay Roth, says it can affect humans when the urine of infected animals enters freshwater sources.

"Minimising contaminants associated with these animals and environmental care is the best way to eliminate causes via environment. here we're looking at piggery management, making sure pig sites comply with local laws and keep pig wastes out of streams, that sort of thing."

Mr Roth says leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics if caught early.