Leptospirosis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment And Prevention


Leptospirosis is a type of infection caused by Leptospira bacteria . The corkscrew-shaped bacteria that cause the rare type of bacterial infection is spread to human beings through animals, especially rodents. The bacteria pass from animals to human beings, when one comes in contact with the animal urine. One can contract the infection through any cut or opening in the skin.

The infection can be caused by several species of the Leptospira genus. It is not limited to human beings but can also affect animals. Although comparatively rare, leptospirosis is one of the most common infections transmitted by animals to humans . The infection can also be transmitted when the animal urine comes in contact with the mucous membrane or the eyes.

The water-borne bacterial disease can be transmitted by both domestic and wild animals. Studies have revealed that leptospirosis is commonly found in underdeveloped or developing countries. And the infection is reported among farmers and low-income communities . In the case of developed countries, leptospirosis is found in individuals who are engaged in outdoor activities. The infection does not spread from one individual to the other, although there have been very few reports on the bacteria spreading from one person to another. It is considered to be weakly contagious .

In some cases, the bacterial infection can elevate to severe levels - resulting in the development of Weil's disease. It is the severe form of leptospirosis and can be fatal .

The signs of bacterial infection usually appear suddenly. It appears within a period of 5 to 14 days after you contract the Leptospira bacteria. However, it can develop within anywhere between 2 to 30 days after the infection. In some cases, the infection can be mild, whereas in others it can be severe. And, the symptoms of both the severe and mild condition vary .

In the case of mild leptospirosis, the symptoms include

The symptoms of mild leptospirosis usually disappear within a period of seven days, without any treatment. However, about 10% of the cases elevate to severe leptospirosis.

Severe leptospirosis develops within a few days after the symptoms of mild leptospirosis have subsided or disappeared. The symptoms are dependent on the internal organs involved. The symptoms can result in respiratory distress, liver or kidney failure and even meningitis.

If the leptospirosis affects the heart, kidneys and the liver, the symptoms will be  

When left untreated, the symptoms can lead to kidney failure .

If leptospirosis affects the brain or the spinal cord, it can cause meningitis or encephalitis. The symptoms include

If the infection affects the lungs, the symptoms will include

One gets affected by the bacterial infection on coming in contact with water, vegetation or wet soil that has been contaminated by the urine of the affected animals. The common carries of the Leptospira bacteria are rodents (mice and rats), pigs, cattle, dogs and horses .

The infection spreads through bacteria, transmission (drinking contaminated water, unhealed cuts, eyes or nose etc.) and at-risk occupations such as farmers, sewer maintenance workers, veterinarians, slaughterhouse workers, sailors on rivers, waste disposal facility workers etc.

It is difficult to examine and understand leptospirosis in the initial or mild stage as the symptoms are similar to that of the flu or infections. The mild leptospirosis will cure by itself in a period of seven days. If the doctor suspects severe leptospirosis, you will be required to undergo some tests .

Blood tests will be carried out to detect the presence of antibodies for the bacteria. The other tests include

Apart from the tests, the doctor will ask you certain questions to examine and understand whether the condition is really leptospirosis.

The doctor will ask if you have

Apart from these, urine tests will also be done .

In order to manage the signs and symptoms of the condition, effective antibiotic therapy can be applied as the treatment method. The medicines used for leptospirosis are ampicillin, azithromycin, ceftriaxone, doxycycline, and penicillin .

Individuals suffering from severe leptospirosis will have to get admitted in the hospital to get further treatment, as the symptoms can elevate to conditions such as kidney failure, meningitis or encephalitis   .

If left untreated, the bacterial infection can result in the development of life-threatening conditions .

You can always adopt the following measures to limit the onset of the infection .

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