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Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: July 21, 1998
Contact: Media Relations, (404) 639-3286

Leptospirosis Update

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state health departments are trying to locate approximately 1,850 athletes from 44 states who participated in triathlons in Illinois, June 21, 1998 and Wisconsin, July 5, 1998. One in five of 500 participants, who have been contacted to date, recently became ill with fever and other symptoms consistent with leptospirosis. Laboratory confirmation for most of these persons is pending.

Athletes who participated in these events and who become ill with fever should contact their physician to receive appropriate care. Physicians should consider leptospirosis among athletes who participated in these events and who report fever. Cases of leptospirosis should be reported to state health departments and CDC. If left untreated, leptospirosis could cause kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, and respiratory distress. Symptoms include fever, headache, chills, and sometimes a rash. Symptoms may occur any time between 4 and 19 days after exposure. Leptospirosis is found in water and soil that has been contaminated with the urine of an infected animal (e.g., dogs, wild rodents, or livestock).

According to event organizers, approximately 966 people participated in the Springfield Ironhorse Triathlon on June 21, and 850 participated in the Bally Total Fitness USTS Madison Triathlon on July 5. CDC has sent two epidemiologists to assist the Wisconsin and Illinois Departments of Health to investigate this cluster of illness.

For more information on leptospirosis


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