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ASTMH: Leptospirosis Studied in Adventure Racers

Researchers recommend targeted chemoprophylaxis to reduce risk of infection

FRIDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Adventure racers who bike, hike and paddle in extreme conditions may have an increased risk of contracting the bacterial infection leptospirosis, according to research presented this week at the 55th annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta.

Eric J. Stern, M.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues studied the leptospirosis outbreak that occurred after the 2005 Adventure Race National Championship in Florida.

The researchers studied 192 of the 200 race participants and found that 43 of them had suspected leptospirosis and 14 had serologically confirmed Leptospira. They identified the major risk factors as swallowing river water (odds ratio, 3.4), swallowing swamp water (OR, 2.4) and being submerged (OR, 2.3). Although many racers wore shorts and experienced severe leg cuts, these factors were not associated with an increased risk.

"This outbreak occurred in an area not previously considered endemic for leptospirosis and resulted in a high rate of symptomatic infection," the authors conclude. "In the absence of modifiable risk factors, targeted chemoprophylaxis should be employed to reduce the risk of leptospirosis in adventure races with extreme water exposure."


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