Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection transmitted from animals to humans. It’s rare and spreads through animal urine, especially from farm animals, dogs, and rodents. Oftentimes, infected animals may not show signs or symptoms of bacterial infection but may still be carriers. While not typically life-threatening, leptospirosis has a variety of unpleasant symptoms that usually clear up in a week or so. However, in severe cases, the condition may evolve into Weil’s disease, which may require hospitalization.
As is true with many diseases and medical conditions, there are certain risk factors that may indicate whether you’re at an increased risk for contracting leptospirosis. For starters, if you spend a lot of time outdoors or working around animals, you’re more likely to develop the disease than others. Because of this, the following types of employees and individuals are more likely to develop the infection than others who work in different industries:
Additionally, if you’re an avid rafter, camper, or swimmer, you may also pick up the illness by swimming or hanging out near contaminated lakes and other water sources.
It’s important to note that leptospirosis is more common in warmer clients and is typically found in Africa, Australia, South America, Central America, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean.
Leptospirosis is caused by Leptospira interrogans, a bacterium commonly carried by animals in their kidneys. The bacteria ends up in groundwater via the animal’s urine. Typically, the bacteria enters your body via open wounds or other breaks in your skin and may also infect you through your mouth, genitals, or nose.
If you have leptospirosis, you may experience some of the following symptoms within two weeks of being infected:
Because many of these symptoms are similar to the flu and other diseases, it’s important to get tested if you think you may have leptospirosis.
If you think you may have leptospirosis, contact your doctor for a check-up. During your checkup, your doctor may collect a blood sample to examine it for certain antibodies your body produces to fight the leptospirosis bacteria.
If your doctor diagnoses you with leptospirosis, he or she may prescribe a regime of antibiotics, including doxycycline and penicillin. Additionally, your doctor may also recommend over-the-counter medications for your fever and muscle aches.
In rare cases, you may experience a more severe form of the infection and require hospital care to treat symptoms such as meningitis, lung issues, and kidney failure.
Thanks to antibiotics and other effective treatment options, the prognosis for leptospirosis is pretty good. However, because symptoms are similar to the flu, it’s important to visit your doctor for proper a diagnosis. Left untreated, though, the infection may result in complications.
Without proper treatment, leptospirosis may result in respiratory issues, liver failure, and the other following complications: