Leptospirosis - Dream Health

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Monday 15 December 2014


Leptospirosis – Bacterial Infection, Spread through Animals

Leptospirosis is a kind of bacterial infection which is spread by animals and caused by corkscrew shaped bacteria known as leptospira. Leptospirosis is also known as field fever, rat catcher’s yellow and pretibial fever.

In 90% of the cases, it could cause mild flu type of symptoms like headaches, muscle pains accompanied with fevers. In some other cases, the infection could be more severe causing life threatening problems like organ failure and internal bleeding. If the infection could cause the person to turn yellow with kidney failure and bleeding, it is known as Weil’s disease.

 If lot of bleeding is caused from the lungs, it is known as severe pulmonary haemorrhage syndrome. Common mild symptoms of most cases of leptospirosis infections is difficult to diagnose and a detailed history of the places visited or had been in contact with any animals could help with the diagnosis.

A person can get affected with leptospirosis on touching soil or water which could have been contaminated with the urine of wild animals infected with the leptospira bacteria. Animals which are known to be carriers of the bacteria include dogs, rodent, especially rats, cattle and pigs and people who tend to deal regularly with animals, like the farmers and vet are at a higher risk of developing this disease.

Biphasic Disease

Besides this, individuals could also be at risk if they are frequently in contact with sources of freshwater like the rivers and lakes which couldbe due to participation in recreational activities like water sports and fishing. This infection in humans could cause a range of symptoms and some infected, may have no symptoms at all.

Being a biphasic disease, it starts suddenly with fever together with chills, intense headache, severe myalgia or muscle ache, abdominal pain, conjunctival suffusion and a skin rash occasionally. The symptoms tend to appear after an incubation period of 7 – 12 days and the first phase ends after three to seven days of illness.

Disappearance of the symptoms coincides with the antibodies that appear against Leptospira and the disappearance of the bacteria from the bloodstream. The person is a carrier for three to four days till the second phase starts with another occurrence of fever.

A distinguished feature of the second phase is meningitis or inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain.

Treated with Antibiotics 

Leptospirosis can be treated with a course of antibiotics where the tablets are given for a week in cases of mild forms of leptospirorsis. In severe cases, the need for admission to the hospital would be essential in order to support the functions of the body when the infection is being treated with injections of antibiotics.

Human vaccines are available in limited countries which include Cuba and China though presently no human vaccine is available in US. Preventive measures can be taken through effective rat control together with avoidance of the urine contamination in water sources.

Leptospirosis is very common in the tropical regions of the world and it is anticipated that due to global warming together with the expected increase in floods that the number of cases of this disease is likely to continue and increase in the near future.

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