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Div. of Media Relations
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(404) 639-3286
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September 13, 2000
Contact: CDC, Division of Media Relations
(404) 6393286

CDC investigating leptospirosis among participants in Eco-Challenge

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with state and local health departments around the United States to investigate cases of Leptospirosis among people who recently participated in the Eco-Challenge Sabah 2000 Expedition Race held in Malaysian Borneo, August 20-September 3, 2000.

Several athletes from Idaho and California have reported being ill with fever and muscle aches. Preliminary laboratory tests at CDC suggests a diagnosis of Leptospirosis. Approximately 155 persons (not including media and family members of participants) from the United States participated in the event. CDC is encouraging athletes who participated in the event and are ill to contact their physician about treatment with appropriate antibiotics. Athletes who participated in the event and are not ill should also contact their physician to decide if they should take antibiotics to prevent getting sick.

Leptospirosis is caused by a bacterium that is transmitted to humans through water contaminated with urine from infected animals. It is not spread from person to person. The most common symptoms in persons who have Leptospirosis are fever, chills, red eyes, stomach ache, vomiting, and diarrhea. The disease is often not diagnosed properly. If the disease is not treated properly, patients can suffer kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, and breathing problems. In rare cases death can occur.

The Eco-Challenge Race is held each year in a different location around the world. The race involves teams of men and women participating together in jungle trekking, canoe paddling, canyoneering, open water swimming, mountain biking, scuba diving, and caving.

For more information on leptospirosis see these CDC websites:

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This page last reviewed September 14, 2000

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