Leptospirosis is an infectious disease caused by a type of bacteria called a spirochete. Leptospirosis can be transmitted by many animals such as rats, and other vermin. It is transmitted though contact with infected soil or water. The soil or water is contaminated with the waste products of an infected animal. People contract the disease by either ingesting contaminated food or water or by broken skin and mucous membrane (eyes, nose, sinuses, mouth) contact with the contaminated water or soil.
What are leptospirosis symptoms and signs?
Leptospirosis symptoms begin from two to 25 days after initial direct exposure to the urine or tissue of an infected animal. This can even occur via contaminated soil or water.
The illness typically progresses through two phases:
The first phase of nonspecific flu-like symptoms includes headaches, muscle aches, eye pain with bright lights, followed bychills and fever. Watering and redness of the eyes occurs and symptoms seem to improve by the fifth to ninth day.
The second phase begins after a few days of feeling well. The initial symptoms recur with fever and aching with stiffness of the neck. Some patients develop serious inflammation of the nerves to the eyes, brain, spinal column (meningitis), or other nerves. Right upper area abdominal pain may occur. Less common symptoms relate to disease of the liver, lungs, kidneys, and heart.
Leptospirosis associated with liver and kidney disease is called Weil’s syndrome and is characterized by yellowing of the eyes (jaundice). Patients with Weil’s syndrome can also develop kidney disease and have more serious involvement of the organs affected.
How is leptospirosis diagnosed?
The diagnosis of leptospirosis is made by culture of the bacterial organism Leptospira from infected blood, spinal fluid, or urine. However, many doctors must rely upon rising Leptospira antibody levels in the blood in order to make the diagnosis, as the technique required to perform the culturing is delicate and difficult.
How is the treatment for leptospirosis? What is the prognosis for leptospirosis?
The treatment of leptospirosis involves high doses of antibiotics. Antibiotic treatment (doxycycline [Vibramycin, Oracea, Adoxa, Atridox], penicillin) is most effective when initiated early in the course of the illness. Severely ill patients may need hospitalization for IV fluid and antibiotic treatment. Severe liver and kidney manifestations of the infection may require intensive medical care and sometimes dialysis treatment. However, even in severe cases, liver and kidney function often does return after recovery from the illness.
Mortality rates for severe illness with leptospirosis can range from 5%-40%, depending on the severity of organ dysfunction and the patient’s general health prior to infection. Most previously healthy patients have a good prognosis and will make a full recovery.
Leptospirosis At A Glance
Leptospirosis is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium.
Leptospirosis is transmitted to humans by direct exposure to urine or tissue of an infected animal.
Leptospirosis typically progresses through two phases of nonspecific symptoms.
Leptospirosis can be diagnosed by culture of infected blood, urine, or spinal fluid, as well as using antibody testing.
Your pets may also be at risk for contracting leptospirosis.
Leptospirosis is treated with antibiotics and is rarely fatal.
By: Ms Madel Buensuceso | Nurse | Samal, Bataan