Soil disease on the rise in Hawaii

Leptospirosis, a disease classified by WHO as emerging in importance in developing countries, is also on the rise in Hawaii, a study shows.

In a decade, the case incidence of the disease has risen from 1.63 to 2.85 per 100,000 population, researchers have said.

They noted a significant shift in the seasonal occurrence of leptospirosis from the drier summer months to the wetter winter months, and found that occupational exposure was now greater than recreational exposure.

A contributing factor may be the resurgence in taro farming due to renewed interest in its cultural importance to native Hawaiians and increased awareness of taro’s nutritional value.

People contract the disease through direct contact with soil or vegetation that has been contaminated by urine from infected animals.

EID 2011; 17(2) Feb