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What are leptospirosis symptoms and signs?

The symptoms and signs of leptospirosis are variable and are similar to those seen in many other diseases (dengue fever, hantavirus, brucellosis, malaria, and others). Symptoms can arise about two days to four weeks after exposure to the bacteria. Although some people have no symptoms, others may exhibit

  • high fever,
  • chills,
  • headache,
  • muscle aches and muscle pain,
  • fatigue,
  • sore throat,
  • abdominal pain,
  • vomiting,
  • diarrhea,
  • jaundice,
  • pain in the joints or muscles,
  • rash, and
  • reddish eyes.

These symptoms usually occur in the first phase of the infection, and when present, they often occur abruptly. Some patients resolve their symptoms and do not progress to the second phase. Others may seem to briefly recover but relapse (about 5%-10%) with more severe symptoms and organ damage in the severe form of the disease. The second-phase symptoms may overlap with the first-phase symptoms in severe disease and include the following:

  • Jaundice
  • Renal failure (kidney damage)
  • Pulmonary hemorrhage
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Pneumonitis
  • Septic shock

This is the second phase of leptospirosis, called Weil's disease. If it's not treated, it may not resolve for several months, and some patients may develop long-term complications such as kidney and lung problems. The death rate is about 1%-5%.

Return to Leptospirosis

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