What is leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is a common infectious zoonotic disease (illnesses passed from animals to humans) that is transmitted from animals to humans and from animal to animal by infected urine. Infection can occur when your skin comes in contact with contaminated matter like flood water and urine from affected animals. Leptospirosis is considered one of the most widespread zoonotic diseases in the world.
Leptospirosis has influenza-like symptoms with an incubation period of 7-12 days. Medical research divides clinical manifestation into two distinct clinical syndromes: anicteric leptospirosis and icteric leptospirosis (also known as Weil’s syndrome). See the difference below:
|Anicteric leptospirosis||Icteric leptospirosis (Weil’s syndrome)|
|• Common, milder form||• Can be fatal|
|• Abrupt fever (up to 40°C||• Persistent high fever|
|• Headaches/nausea||• Jaundice|
|• Myalgia (usually around the abdominal and calf areas)||• Hepatic dysfucntion|
|• Presence of skin rashes||• Possibility of: hepatic dysfunction, renal insufficiency, multi-organ failure, hemorrhage|
Who are at risk?
Walking through floodwaters and exposure to sewer water can cause leptospirosis. Exercise caution when dealing with stagnant water inside and outside your home. Leptospirosis can easily be spread after exposure to contaminated urine of infected animals, so those who work closely with animals on a daily basis are always at risk.
- Meat workers
- Fishing industry workers
- Forestry workers
Prevention is always better than cure and currently there is no known treatment or vaccination against leptospirosis. Here are a few tips on how you can avoid getting infected:
- Avoid passing through soil or water which may be contaminated with animal urine.
- Never drink from bottles which may have been exposed to unsanitary storage conditions.
- Wear protective clothing like waterproof clothes and boots if you need to walk in flooded areas.
- Cover wounds with water resistant bandages most especially during rainy days.
If you suspect that you are infected or experience any of the symptoms above, see your doctor immediately. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics after a successful diagnosis, this may be administered in intravenous form for more severe cases.
Always consult your doctor regarding any concern about your health. Your doctor will be in the best position to give the appropriate medical advice.