Leptospirosis

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Leptospirosis facts

  • Leptospirosis is an infectious disease that can occur in humans and animals worldwide.
  • A spirochete, Leptospira interrogans, causes leptospirosis.
  • High risk factors 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 high fever, chills, headache, abdominal symptoms to Weil's disease with organ dysfunction.
  • Definitive diagnosis is done by isolating the bacteria from the patient; serological 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 very limited because they usually only protect well against a single serovar. Doxycycline (Vibramycin, Oracea, Adoxa, Atridox) has been used as a short-term prophylactic treatment to protect some humans from leptospirosis.

What is leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a disease caused by bacteria (Leptospira interrogans) that produce a wide range of symptoms that may occur in 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 (many species, both domesticated and wild); 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.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/7/2014


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