Causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Leptospirosis is an infection caused by Leptospira, a bacterium. It is a zoonotic disease, which means it can infect both humans and animals, such as dogs.

The disease is mainly spread through contact with the urine of infected animals. In humans, this can occur due to contact with urine or contaminated soil or water.

Sometimes, leptospirosis causes mild flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all. But it can also lead to serious complications, such as meningitis, and it can be fatal.

Let’s take a look at how leptospirosis is diagnosed and treated. We’ll also discuss the best ways to prevent illness in people and pets.

Types of Leptospirosis

There are two possible stages or types of leptospirosis:

anicteric syndrome

Anicteric syndrome is the first stage of leptospirosis.It’s a mild flu-like illness 90% case.

jaundice syndrome

If a person gets better but gets sick again, they will enter the second stage of leptospirosis. This form is called jaundice syndrome or Weil’s disease. It’s more serious.

Usually, this type of leptospirosis lasts for several weeks. It is less common than the first stage of leptospirosis.

Leptospirosis varies in the type and severity of symptoms.

Mild leptospirosis can cause:

In some cases, leptospirosis causes no symptoms at all.

Symptoms of severe leptospirosis include:

usually requires between 1 to 2 weeks Patients begin to experience symptoms, but it can take up to a month.

Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria Leptospira. When you are exposed to:

  • infected animal
  • Urine of infected animals
  • contaminated soil or water

Bacteria can enter the body through open wounds or mucous membranes such as the eyes or mouth. It then enters the bloodstream and spreads throughout the body.

Leptospirosis rarely spreads between humans.However, it may happen pregnancy period, through the placenta. This brings the risk of miscarriage.

Leptospirosis is common in animals. This includes farm, wild and domesticated animals. It is common in dogs but rare in cats.

Animals with leptospirosis may not have any symptoms. They may also release bacteria into the environment for months or years.

Dogs can be vaccinated against leptospirosis. The vaccine provides protection for at least 12 months, so it may need to be given annually. There is no leptospirosis vaccine for cats.

it is possible Humans contract leptospirosis from animals. This can occur through exposure to the urine of infected animals. It is rarely spread through animal bites.

Leptospira Commonly seen in:

  • cows
  • pig
  • horses
  • raccoon
  • porcupine
  • puppy
  • rodents, such as mice or rats

Leptospirosis is more likely to affect people who:

  • Live in a tropical or temperate climate
  • work with animals, such as dairy farmers or veterinarians
  • Work outdoors, such as mine or sewer workers
  • Swimming or canoeing in contaminated water
  • camping outside
  • participate in outdoor sports
  • Living in an area subject to flooding or inadequate sanitation
  • gardening or handling potentially contaminated soil

Leptospirosis is rare in the United States.

Treatment can help reduce the severity of leptospirosis. But if left untreated, complications can result, such as:

In some cases, it can lead to death.

The best treatment depends on the severity. Options include:

Fluid and Fever Management

Mild cases of leptospirosis can be treated with simple remedies such as:


Antibiotics are drugs designed to destroy harmful bacteria. The following antibiotics are used to treat leptospirosis:

For severe leptospirosis, antibiotics can be given intravenously.

other medical treatments

If you have severe leptospirosis, you will need to be hospitalized. That’s because severe cases can affect multiple organs.

In the hospital, depending on your clinical condition and severity, you may need additional medical interventions, such as:

Contact your doctor if you believe you have been exposed to animal urine or contaminated soil or water.

Other signs that you should contact your doctor include:

  • persistent fever
  • unexplained stomach or muscle pain
  • Unexplained diarrhea or vomiting
  • cough
  • red eyes
  • chills
  • jaundice
  • stiff neck
  • Headache

Your healthcare team can diagnose leptospirosis using:

  • medical history. This will help your doctor determine your risk and rule out other conditions.
  • blood test. Your doctor may order blood tests to measure your complete blood count, kidney and liver function, and to check for leptospirosis antibodies.
  • Microscopic agglutination test. This test is the gold standard for diagnosing leptospirosis. It checks your serum for leptospirosis antibodies.
  • lumbar puncture. A lumbar puncture checks your cerebrospinal fluid for signs of meningitis.

The best way to prevent leptospirosis is to avoid exposure to the bacteria. You can take the following steps to avoid this disease:

in people

Follow these tips to prevent leptospirosis infection:

  • Avoid swimming in fresh water that may contain animal urine, such as rivers or streams.
  • Avoid swimming in bodies of water after heavy rain or flooding.
  • Avoid touching or swimming in floodwater.
  • Begin by boiling unsafe water.
  • Control rats and mice.
  • Wear protective clothing or shoes when handling contaminated water or soil.
  • Wear protective clothing or shoes if you work with animals.

If your pet has leptospirosis, here are some things you can do to protect yourself:

  • Give your pet prescription antibiotics as directed by your veterinarian.
  • Avoid contact with pet urine.
  • If your pet urinates in the house, clean it right away.
  • Keep your pet urinating away from bodies of water or places that people will touch, such as benches.
  • Wash hands after touching pets.

in pets

You can take the following steps to protect your pet:

  • Keep your pets away from rodents, wild animals and dead animals.
  • Keep your pets away from contaminated water, especially after heavy rain or flooding.
  • Make sure your pet only drinks clean water.
  • If possible, keep your pet away from the urine of other animals.
  • Consult your veterinarian if your dog requires a leptospirosis vaccine.

Leptospirosis can occur in humans and animals. It is mainly spread through the urine of infected animals, but it can also be spread through contaminated water or soil.

Although most cases are mild, leptospirosis can lead to serious life-threatening complications such as meningitis and kidney damage. It is important to get treatment as soon as possible to avoid these problems.

To reduce risk, avoid animal urine and contact with fresh water, especially after flooding. Always wear protective equipment if you work with animals.

Contact your doctor if you develop symptoms of leptospirosis, such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea, neck stiffness, and headache.