Prevention is first and foremost about informing those who will potentially be exposed, so that they take the correct actions and use appropriate means of prevention for the activity in question, as per the recommendations of the French High Council for Public Hygiene.
What are the means of protection for workers(1)?
Prevention in the workplace is a major issue. Leptospirosis is recognized as an occupational disease worldwide by the International Labor Organization, to ensure that victims are compensated. In France, it is the responsibility of the employer, with the assistance of multidisciplinary occupational health teams (occupational physicians, nurses, assistants, Occupational Risk Prevention Officers) to implement an institutional prevention plan.
To be effective, prevention should be adapted to the dangers to which the workers are exposed, and should begin via an accurate risk analysis. In all cases, the company should implement collective preventative actions.
Preventing disease reservoirs: limiting the proliferation of rodents
- Waste management: identify specific areas and ensure that waste is collected regularly
Exposed workers should follow the following prevention instructions:
- Adhere to the safety instructions: don’t drink, eat or smoke in your workplace.
- Wear appropriate protective equipment for the activity: for example, boots, overalls, protective goggles.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with dirty hands.
- Disinfect and protect skin wounds with waterproof dressing.
- Vaccination may be recommended, by an authorized medical professional and based on official recommendations, for workers with a particularly high risk of exposure to the disease.
Healthcare professionals can also assess whether vaccination is necessary, in addition to the other methods of prevention, based on the official recommendations.
It is extremely important that workers adhere to disease prevention instructions, which in practice are not followed very closely.
In France, for example, 39% of workers exposed to leptospirosis as part of their job do not adhere to the hygiene rules (don’t drink, eat or smoke in your workplace) and 67% would not consult their general practitioner if they experienced influenza-like symptoms(2).
Disinfect and protect
wounds or scratches with waterproof dressing
Wash your hands
with soap and clean water after sport or leisure activities
your eyes, nose and mouth with dirty hands
Wear protective equipment,
depending on the activity (boots, overalls, protective goggles)
Consult your general practitioner
if you experience influenza-like symptoms and inform those exposed
if advised to do so by a healthcare professional, based on official recommendations
How can the general public be protected(3)?
Leptospirosis may also be contracted during leisure activities. The following recommendations should be followed, in particular:
- Wash your hands with soap and clean water after sport or leisure activities in fresh water.
- Consult your doctor if you regularly practice activities with a risk of leptospirosis; they will follow the official prevention recommendations for the general public.
(1) Avis du Conseil Supérieur d’Hygiène Publique en France relatif aux recommandations pour la prévention de la leptospirose dans la population générale (séance du 30 septembre 2005).
(2) Ehrmann P, La leptospirose en milieu professionnel – Evaluation de l’information et de la prévention chez les travailleurs professionnellement exposés. Mémoire en vue de l’obtention du Diplome d ‘études spécialisées en Santé au travail 2006 – 2007.
(3) Avis du Conseil Supérieur d’Hygiène Publique en France relatif aux recommandations pour la prévention de la leptospirose en cas d’activité professionnelle à risque (séance du 18 mars 2005).