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Leptospirosis: symptoms, contagion and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

It is known as Leptospirosis or Weil’s disease, a disease of bacterial origin, which represents a significant problem for public health due to its distribution throughout the world, and the fact of having the ability to manifest its symptoms in the humans in hundreds of wild and domestic animals. Its appearance, in general, is related to exposure to contaminated food that allows transmission from an infected animal to humans. However, its appearance may be more likely in other situations under certain circumstances. Do you want to know what measures you should take if you suspect that you are or know someone who may be infected with this disease? We invite you to continue reading our FastlyHealarticle on Leptospirosis: symptoms, contagion, and treatment.

Weil disease: causes of Leptospirosis

Sometimes also called Weil’s disease, Leptospirosis is a condition caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira, to whom the disease owes its name. The bacteria that cause Leptospirosis can survive hosting in humans and a wide variety of animals ranging from farm animals such as cows and pigs, wild animals such as rats, and even domestic animals such as dogs, and can even manifest symptoms in These animals.

The bacteria that cause Leptospirosis can pass through mucous membranes in the mouth, nose, throat, and eyes by remaining in contact with these surfaces long enough. In general, the transmission of Leptospirosis occurs either by a direct mechanism :

  • The person’s contact with infected blood, urine, or tissue
  • Through ingestion of food and water contaminated with Leptospira

On the other hand, contagion can also occur by an indirect mechanism that is much more frequent and involves the contact of the skin or mucosa with land, objects, or liquids contaminated with urine from infected animals.

Leptospirosis can be observed in rural and urban areas and depends very much on the health situation of the population, and usually has a preference for tropical regions. However, the appearance of outbreaks of Leptospirosis is more related to the occurrence of natural disasters such as floods, without distinguishing between living conditions.

Leptospirosis in humans: symptoms

In some scarce situations, Leptospirosis does not produce any symptoms, but a clinical picture usually occurs characterized by two phases generally, of which the second phase is always more severe.

During the first days in which the disease appears, the affected person may feel symptoms very similar to those of a cold, characterized by:

  • Fever
  • Shaking chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle pains.

After this first phase, how the disease manifests itself in its second phase can have different degrees of severity:

  • An analgesic Leptospirosis is a form that occurs most frequently and is the mildest manifestation of the disease. The same symptoms mentioned above are present, generally more pronounced. Digestive symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea also begin to appear, and aseptic meningitis occurs in most of those infected. After 4 to 9 days, the patient can fully recover, but there is a risk of recurrence of symptoms.
  • Icteric Leptospirosis or Weil’s disease: This form of Leptospirosis is much less common and much more severe. Its name is because there is an increase in bilirubin levels producing a yellow coloration of the skin and the conjunctiva of the eyes known as jaundice, which is also accompanied by inflammation and pain of the liver. Another characteristic of Leptospirosis is kidney failure. It can be very mild or extremely severe. Bleeding can be observed at different levels of the body, manifested on the skin with the appearance of bruises and red spots, nasal bleeding, hemoptysis, and blood in the stool. In addition, there may be impaired circulatory function, alteration of blood components, and pulmonary involvement.

Treatment of human Leptospirosis

The diagnosis of Leptospirosis is made through a blood study that seeks to identify the bacteria or the antibodies that the body generates to fight it. When a person has an acute form of fever and is exposed to conditions where there may be greater exposure to the bacteria (a field worker, for example), Leptospirosis should be suspected.

Treatment of the patient is highly dependent on the severity of the disease. In milder cases, the patient may be prescribed antibiotic medication to reduce the bacterial load and the consumption of anti-inflammatory analgesics to reduce symptoms. The antibiotics usually indicated are penicillin or one of its family, and doxycycline in case of allergic to penicillin, and the pain relievers are generally ibuprofen, diclofenac, or naproxen. Milder patients do not need special care to comply with the indicated treatment at home.

Treatment is complicated in the most severe cases since liver and kidney function must be assessed. These cases must be managed in a hospital way, and many times these patients are admitted to the intensive care service. Antibiotic medication should be continued, but pain relievers should not be used as the pain above relievers because they may increase the risk of bleeding; instead, paracetamol is administered.

Leptospirosis Prevention

Although eradicating Leptospirosis is a practically impossible task due to the wide distribution of the causative bacteria among different animals, there are specific measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of contracting the disease:

  • In the first place, the risk of contact with rodents and their biological waste must be eliminated since these are one of the leading causes of the disease. This can be achieved by reinforcing hygiene measures and combating the invasion of rats and mice into our homes and surroundings.
  • Domestic and farm animals can be vaccinated against the disease to reduce the risk of infection and thus also reduce the risk to humans. This is a recommended measure mainly for people living in endemic areas.
  • People who are exposed to the disease due to working conditions, such as veterinarians, field workers, general cleaning workers, or those who work in the sewers of cities, should be adequately protected by the use of gloves, masks, and glasses to avoid contact with liquids or any substance that may contain the bacteria.
  • Something as simple as improving how food is sanitized can significantly reduce the risks of suffering from this disease. Avoiding this disease can be simple, as long as the importance of optimal hygiene measures is always kept in mind.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Leptospirosis: symptoms, contagion and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Immune system category .

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