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Jan 8, 2014

Ministry of Health launches investigations into leptospirosis

There is another health concern. As we reported on Tuesday night, former traffic officer, Michael Lewis died at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital by what his family says was a confirmed case of the disease. The family was also told that others had been diagnosed with leptospirosis. But sources tell News Five that Lewis was not treated for leptospirosis but for another disease. The Interim Head of the Epidemiology Unit at the Ministry of Health, Marvin Manzanero, tells News Five that an investigation has been launched by the Public Health Department in Belize City to scan for clinical cases as well as for potential areas where leptospirosis might be transmitted from animals to humans.  Manzanero also spoke of Lewis’ demise and precautionary measures to be taken by the public.


Via Phone: Marvin Manzanero, Interim Head of Epidemiology Unit, Ministry of Health

Marvin Manzanero

“Normally on a yearly basis, we do have sporadic cases of leptospirosis. What triggered the alert for us at headquarters is the patient that died presumably of leptospirosis—because we are still pending a laboratory confirmation of that—at Karl Heusner around New Year. We just did a review of clinical cases this morning at Karl Heusner and there were two cases last month of leptospirosis; those patients were discharged alive. If you are asking me if we are having a spike or if there are any reason for us to believe there is an outbreak, I would tell you no because this hasn’t been higher than the expected threshold of documented number of cases in a given year or in a given period of time. It is transmitted primarily…rodents, rats, are considered to be one of the primary carriers. It is a disease that is transmitted from animal in this instance mostly mammals—which means any mammal can potentially be a carrier—passing it along via urine, primarily urine, on to contaminated water on to humans. There is not documented cases of human to human contact of leptospirosis. It’s primarily an infection that is going to prevent itself with fever, joint pain, muscle pain and in two three days after, patients start to have jaundice or the yellow coloration of the eyes, mucosa, which can at times you have to make a differential diagnosis with any other infection that could cause liver….an inflammative process in the liver. Which is why in the case of the patient that died, he was initially admitted with a diagnosis of unspecified jaundice. Two or three days later is when the diagnosis was made and treatment was not initially handed because the diagnosis wasn’t there. Now leptospirosis is a curable disease; as I said, we have cases every year. But it is not something that is going to mean death in the patient if it is treated properly, adequately and assuming that there is no other health factors that could influence the outcome. If the patient has any other disease or chronic condition or is malnourished, if a patient is an alcoholic or is doing drugs, those kinds of things can make cases a little bit more difficult to treat.”


Annually, there is an average of three to five cases of leptospirosis. In 2013 there were only two known cases in the public health system. The disease is primarily transmitted to mammals and humans when rodents, specifically rats, urinate in water which is then consumed.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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2 Responses for “Ministry of Health launches investigations into leptospirosis”

  1. Elgin Martinez says:

    Instead of bsing Manzanero need to explain to the Belizean people why Mr. Lewis was treated prior to being diagnosed.At the end of the day what transpired at the KHMH as it relates to the care that was given to Mr Lewis is still Malpractice and your administration is culpable mr Manzanero.

  2. Elgin Martinez says:

    It’s so ironic that there were two prior casesof leptospirosis at the KHMH and yet Manzanero decided that it wasn’t important for the General public to know until now because he ‘s got to cover his @%^&.The Belizean populace deserves better answers.

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