Leptospirosis

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP
    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP

    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP

    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.

Leptospirosis Symptoms

Chills

Chills are feelings of coldness accompanied by shivering. They may arise with or without fever. Without fever, chills typically arise after exposure to a cold environment. Essentially any condition that may produce fever (including infections and cancers) can result in chills along with fever. Fever and chills are common symptoms of influenza infection (the flu).

Leptospirosis facts

  • Leptospirosis is an infectious disease that can occur in humans and animals worldwide.
  • A type of spiral-shaped bacterium called a spirochete, Leptospira interrogans, causes leptospirosis.
  • High risk factors for leptospirosis include close association with animals and the water and soil they may contaminate with infected urine.
  • Symptoms and signs of leptospirosis are highly variable and range from no symptoms to nonspecific symptoms including
  • Diagnosis of leptospirosis is done by isolating the bacteria from the patient. Blood tests are also available.
  • There are antibiotics that are effective in treating leptospirosis.
  • Most people infected with Leptospira interrogans bacteria have a good prognosis; a few have a more guarded prognosis.
  • Vaccines are available for humans and animals in some countries. There is no vaccine available commercially for humans in the U.S. Available vaccines are limited because they usually only protect well against a single serovar. Doxycycline (Vibramycin, Oracea, Adoxa, Atridox) has been used as a short-term preventive treatment to protect some humans from leptospirosis.

What is leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis (also known as Weil's disease) is a disease caused by bacteria (Leptospira interrogans) that produce a wide range of symptoms that may occur in two phases; some patients may develop kidney or liver failure, respiratory failure, meningitis, or even death. The disease is spread by the urine of infected animals from many species, both domesticated, such as dogs and horses, and wild, such as rodents or wild pigs. The bacteria can survive in the water and soil for months. The disease is most common in temperate and tropical climates. The infecting bacteria occur worldwide, for example, in the United States, Leptospira has been found in Hawaii's freshwater ponds and waterfalls.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/12/2016

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