What is Leptospirosis, Causes and Symptoms of Leptospirosis


  • Posted on- May 18, 2018
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Leptospirosis is an infectious disease which is caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira and it affects both humans as well as other animals.

Leptospirosis is one of the world's most widespread diseases that can be easily transmitted by animals to humans.

Generally, the infection is transmitted to humans by water that has been contaminated by animal urine which comes in contact with unhealed breaks in the skin, the eyes, or with the mucous membranes.

In most of the cases, leptospirosis only causes mild flu-like symptoms like headache, chills and muscle pain. Although in some of the cases, the infection is more severe and can further cause life-threatening problems that includes organ failure and internal bleeding. Severe form of leptospirosis is known as Weil's disease.

Causes of Leptospirosis

Rodents, Cattle, buffaloes, horses, sheep, goat, pigs and dogs are known to be common reservoirs of the bacteria that cause leptospirosis. Generally, the incubation period of leptospirosis is 5–15 days, with a range of 2–30 days.

Outbreaks of leptospirosis can occur, due to close contact with infected freshwater sources, such as some water sports. It is also possible for people to become infected after a natural disaster, such as a flood.

Diagnosis of Leptospirosis

Blood test is done to detect antibodies for the bacteria.
Other tests include:

  • Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
  • MAT (microscopic agglutination test) which is a serological test is considered the gold standard in diagnosing leptospirosis.


Symptoms of Leptospirosis

Mild symptoms, includes:

  • High temperature (fever) that is usually between 38 and 40°C
  • Sudden headache and chills
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscular pain especially in the muscles of calves and lower back
  • Irritation and redness of the eyes (Conjunctivitis)
  • Cough
  • Short-lived rash

More severe manifestations include:

  • Meningitis
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Hearing loss
  • Respiratory distress
  • Azotemia

Renal interstitial tubular necrosis, which results in renal failure and occasionally liver failure, is the severe form of this disease known as Weil's disease, though it is sometimes named Weil Syndrome.


How to manage Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis can be treated with medicines like:

  • Ampicillin
  • Azithromycin
  • Ceftriaxone
  • Doxycycline
  • Penicillin


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