A travel alert has been issued for Fiji following the outbreak of an infection which has killed four people this year and hospitalised a further 18

A total of 69 cases of leptospirosis (Weil’s disease) have been reported in the central division of the Pacific island nation since January 1.

Leptospirosis is caught through contact with the urine of infected animals.

Symptoms include high fever, chills, headache, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.

Leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis and liver failure. It can be treated with antibiotics.

The Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services said: “People who work with animals (e.g. farmers) are at higher risk of getting this disease, however the current outbreak in the Central Division is also affecting people who do non-animal related work.

“Recent heavy rains and flooding are likely to have contributed to the increase in cases in the Central Division.”

Animals that may spread the disease through their infected urine include rats, dogs, cats, cattle, pigs, horses and mongooses.

The warning triggered updated UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice which said: “Please exercise caution should you be travelling to the Central
Division and visit the nearest hospital or healthcare facility if suffering from the symptoms of leptospirosis.”