Leptospirosis Facts Summary
Leptospirosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria. The illness progresses in two phases. Symptoms in the first phase include headache, muscle aches, eye pain with bright lights, chills, and fever. Symptoms in the second phase begin after a few days of feeling well and include fever, aches, and a stiff neck. Some people develop meningitis and abdominal pain.
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Leptospirosis facts

  • Leptospirosis is an infectious disease causedby a bacterium.
  • Leptospirosis is transmitted to humans by direct exposure to urine or tissue of an infected animal.
  • Leptospirosis typically progresses through two phases of nonspecific symptoms.
  • Leptospirosis can be diagnosed by culture ofinfected blood, urine, or spinal fluid, as well as using antibody testing.
  • Your pets may also be at risk for contracting leptospirosis.
  • Leptospirosis is treated with antibiotics and is rarely fatal.

What is leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is an infectious disease caused by a type of bacteria called a spirochete. Leptospirosis can be transmitted by many animals such as rats, skunks, opossums, raccoons, foxes, and other vermin. It is transmitted though contact with infected soil or water. The soil or water is contaminated with the waste products of an infected animal. People contract the disease by either ingesting contaminated food or water or by broken skin and mucous membrane (eyes, nose, sinuses, mouth) contact with the contaminated water or soil.

Leptospirosis occurs worldwide, but it is most commonly acquired in the tropics. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states 100-200 cases of leptospirosis are reported each year in the United States, with about 50% of cases occurring in Hawaii. Although the incidence in the United States is relatively low, leptospirosis is considered the most widespread disease that is transmitted by animals in the world.

A 2010 outbreak in Michigan caused serious illness in numerous pets, raising concern for the local human population. In 2009, typhoons hit the Philippines, causing a leptospirosis outbreak. The Philippines Department of Health then reported 1,887 cases of leptospirosis, which resulted in 138 deaths.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/7/2014