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Leptospirosis in France (Ariege)

14 Sep 2021

According to media (in French) on 10 September 2021, public health authorities in France reported 10 cases of leptospirosis in the Ariege region of France, a mountainous area near the border with Spain. All of the cases had been involved in water activities in the River Argensou at Auzat. French authorities have advised anyone becoming unwell after fishing, swimming or canyoning in the area to seek medical attention.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection found in the pee of infected animals (usually rats or other rodents). People become infected when they have contact with water which has been contaminated by the infected animal's pee.

Advice for Travellers

You may be at increased risk of infection whilst travelling if you will be:

  • involved in outdoor water sports such as white-water rafting, adventure racing, kayaking or triathlon events, particularly following heavy rains or flooding
  • wading through flood water or swimming or washing in contaminated water
  • at risk through your job, for example farmers, veterinarians, sewage workers and fish farmers are at greater risk

If you are travelling to an area where there has been an outbreak of leptospirosis, you should:

  • be aware of the risk and avoid exposure to fresh water especially after heavy rains and floods, when contamination is more likely.
  • always protect your skin when travelling, particularly in tropical climates. All cuts, scratches and open skin lesions should be covered with waterproof plasters.
  • avoid swallowing or drinking water that could be infected.
  • wear protective clothing (wet suits and goggles) especially footwear, for example, waders if the risk is considered high and exposure is unavoidable. Careful washing and showering after possible exposure may be helpful.

There is no vaccine available in the UK to protect against leptospirosis.

See the fitfortravel Leptospirosis page for further information.