Health Alert: February 17, 2017

February 17, 2017

NJLINCS Health Alert Network

Public Health Advisory

Distributed by the New Jersey Department of Health

Subject: Leptospirosis Cluster in the Concourse area of the Bronx

Date: 2/15/2017; 14:48:22

Message#: 103336-2-15-2017-PHAD

Contact Info: Kristin Garafalo, NJDOH – Infectious and Zoonotic Disease Program
Phone: 609-826-4872; Email:
Colin Campbell, NJDOH – Infectious and Zoonotic Disease Program
Phone: 609-826-4872; Email:

Attachments: Leptospirosis_in_the_Bronx_HAN_2_14_2017.pdf

On February 14, 2017, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released a Health Alert (attached) regarding three recently reported Leptospirosis cases whose exposure occurred within a one block section of the Concourse area of the Bronx. Human leptospirosis cases are very rare in New York City: this is the first time a cluster of cases has been identified.

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease caused by bacteria belonging to the genus Leptospirosa. It is transmitted to humans through cuts and abrasions of the skin, or through mucous membranes contact with water or soil contaminated with the urine of infected animals. The New York City cluster is attributed to exposure to rats. Direct person-to-person transmission is rare but possible.

Symptoms of Leptospirosis can develop from 2 days to 4 weeks after exposure. The usual presentation is an acute febrile illness with fever, headache, myalgia, vomiting and jaundice. Left untreated, it can cause kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, respiratory distress. Case fatality rate is 1 to 5%.

Diagnostic testing should be requested for patients where there is high suspicion for leptospirosis, based either on signs and symptoms, or on occupational, recreational, or vocational exposure to animals or environments contaminated with animal urine.

Although New Jersey does not mandate reporting of Leptospirosis at this time, voluntary reporting of suspected and confirmed cases is requested. These cases should be reported to the local health department where the patient resides. Information gathered from voluntary reporting of Leptospirosis cases within New Jersey will be used for surveillance and epidemiological purposes and to assist health care providers until leptospirosis is classified as a reportable disease through rule-making.

If you would like a copy of the above referenced attachment, please contact Aaron Allen at