Learn About Leptospirosis

What is the definition of Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is an infection caused by leptospira bacteria.

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What are the alternative names for Leptospirosis?

Weil disease; Icterohemorrhagic fever; Swineherd's disease; Rice-field fever; Cane-cutter fever; Swamp fever; Mud fever; Hemorrhagic jaundice; Stuttgart disease; Canicola fever

What are the causes of Leptospirosis?

These bacteria can be found in fresh water that has been soiled by animal urine. You may get infected if you consume or come in contact with contaminated water or soil. The infection occurs in warmer climates. Leptospirosis is not spread from person to person, except in very rare cases.

Risk factors include:

  • Occupational exposure -- farmers, ranchers, slaughterhouse workers, trappers, veterinarians, loggers, sewer workers, rice field workers, and military personnel
  • Recreational activities -- fresh water swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and trail biking in warm areas
  • Household exposure -- pet dogs, domesticated livestock, rainwater catchment systems, and infected rodents

Weil disease, a severe form of leptospirosis, is rare in the continental United States. Hawaii has the highest number of cases in the United States.

What are the symptoms of Leptospirosis?

Symptoms can take 2 to 30 days (average 10 days) to develop, and may include:

  • Dry cough
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Shaking chills

Less common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abnormal lung sounds
  • Bone pain
  • Conjunctival redness without fluid
  • Enlarged lymph glands
  • Enlarged spleen or liver
  • Joint aches
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Muscle tenderness
  • Skin rash
  • Sore throat
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What are the current treatments for Leptospirosis?

Medicines to treat leptospirosis include:

  • Ampicillin
  • Azithromycin
  • Ceftriaxone
  • Doxycycline
  • Penicillin

Complicated or serious cases may need supportive care. You may need treatment in a hospital intensive care unit (ICU).

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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Leptospirosis?

The outlook is generally good. However, a complicated case can be fatal if it is not treated promptly.

What are the possible complications of Leptospirosis?

Complications may include:

  • Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction when penicillin is given
  • Meningitis
  • Severe bleeding
When should I contact a medical professional for Leptospirosis?

Contact your health care provider if you have any symptoms of, or risk factors for, leptospirosis.

How do I prevent Leptospirosis?

Avoid areas of stagnant water or floodwater, especially in tropical climates. If you are exposed to a high risk area, take precaution to avoid infection. Wear protective clothing, shoes, or boots when near water or soil contaminated with animal urine. You can take doxycycline to decrease the risk.

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What are the latest Leptospirosis Clinical Trials?
Leptospirosis Care Bundle Study: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Summary: So in management of Leptospirosis patients There really is no another approach to treatment. The importance of the problem was acknowledged by the researchers. As a result, this study was performed in order to The Leptospirosis Care Bundle has been used, and has been proved that its use can reduce the risk of acute renal failure.
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Leptospirosis, Tularaemia and Hepatitis E in a Rural Mountain Valley in the Alpine Region of Switzerland - A Cross-sectional Exploratory Seroprevalence Study
Summary: Human leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira. Due to its frequent inapparent course or mild severity with unspecific symptoms and limited availability of diagnostic laboratories the incidence of leptospirosis is likely to be underestimated. The hospital of Val Müstair is the major healthcare provider of a rural mountain valley in the canton of Graubünden/ Sw...
What are the Latest Advances for Leptospirosis?
Revisiting the Development of Vaccines Against Pathogenic Leptospira: Innovative Approaches, Present Challenges, and Future Perspectives.
Summary: Revisiting the Development of Vaccines Against Pathogenic Leptospira: Innovative Approaches, Present Challenges, and Future Perspectives.
Rapid and sensitive point-of-care detection of Leptospira by RPA-CRISPR/Cas12a targeting lipL32.
Summary: Rapid and sensitive point-of-care detection of Leptospira by RPA-CRISPR/Cas12a targeting lipL32.
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Genetic diversity of Leptospira isolates in Lao PDR and genome analysis of an outbreak strain.
Summary: Genetic diversity of Leptospira isolates in Lao PDR and genome analysis of an outbreak strain.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: July 13, 2020
Published By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Galloway RL, Stoddard RA, Schafer IJ. Leptospirosis. CDC Yellow Book 2020: Health Information for the International Traveler. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/yellowbook-home. Updated July 18, 2019. Accessed October 7, 2020.

Haake DA, Levett PN. Leptospira species (leptospirosis). In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 239.

Zaki S, Shieh W-J. Leptospirosis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 307.