Increase of leptospirosis in dengue-negative patients after a hurricane in Puerto Rico in 1996 [correction of 1966].
Sanders EJ., Rigau-Pérez JG., Smits HL., Deseda CC., Vorndam VA., Aye T., Spiegel RA., Weyant RS., Bragg SL.
Leptospirosis has rarely been reported in Puerto Rico, although in the period from 1948 to 1952, 208 cases of leptospirosis and an island-wide seroprevalence of antibody to Leptospira of 14% were documented. In Puerto Rico in October 1996, following rainfall and a period of flooding generated by Hurricane Hortense, serum specimens of 4 patients with suspected dengue fever that were negative for dengue tested positive for Leptospira-specific IgM antibodies in a dipstick assay. Subsequently, we used an island-wide dengue laboratory-based surveillance system to determine the increase in leptospirosis after hurricane-generated floods. All anti-dengue IgM-negative patients (n = 142) with disease onset from August 8 to October 6, 1996 from prehurricane and posthurricane groups were investigated for leptospirosis. Laboratory-confirmed leptospirosis cases were defined as microscopic agglutination test titers > or = 1 :400 to 1 or more serovars, or positive immunohistochemistry in autopsy tissues. Four (6%) of 72 prehurricane and 17 (24%) of 70 posthurricane patients had laboratory-confirmed cases of leptospirosis (relative risk [RR] = 4.4, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.6-12.4). The mean age of case-patients was 34 years (range = 13-64). Eighteen (86%) of 21 confirmed case-patients were males, including one patient who died (31 years old). Patients were located in 18 (38%) of 48 municipalities that submitted serum samples. Clinical features significantly associated with leptospirosis were eye pain (RR = 1.5, 95% CI = 1.3-1.9), joint pain (RR = 1.4, 95% CI = 1.1-1.6), diarrhea (RR = 1.7, 95% CI = 1.2-2.5), and jaundice (RR = 3.3, 95% CI = 1.5-7.2). This study demonstrates the utility of a dengue laboratory-based surveillance system for the detection of an increase of leptospirosis, which most likely would have gone unrecognized. Leptospirosis is treatable with antibacterial agents; knowledge of this diagnosis may significantly reduce morbidity and mortality.