Leptospirosis: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Leptospirosis?

  • Leptospirosis is a rare and severe infection that occurs when you come in contact with Leptospira bacteria.
  • The disease can range from very mild and symptomless to a more serious, even life threatening form that may be associated with kidney failure and other organ failure.
  • Leptospirosis is spread to humans by animals.
  • The soil or water is contaminated with the waste products of an infected animal.
  • There are many other names for leptospirosis such as Weils Syndrome (Very Severe Condition), Canicola Fever, black jaundice etc.
Leptospirosis overview

Recovery Time

If the disease is identified and medication is taken properly then it lasts for 7 days.


  • Complete blood count
  • Urinalysis
  • Creatine kinase 
  • Liver enzymes
  • Blood test for antibodies

FAQs prepared by doctor

1. Who gets leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is primarily an occupational disease that affects farmers, sewer workers or others whose occupation involves contact with animals, especially rats. Leptospirosis is spread mainly by the urine of infected animals and is generally not transmitted from person to person.In recreational settings; leptospirosis is a hazard for campers, hikers, hunters, competitive swimmers or adventure racers, and travelers to tropical countries. It has been associated with swimming, wading, and whitewater rafting in contaminated lakes and rivers.

2. I am undergoing treatment for leptospirosis. will there be further problems in kidney, heart or lungs in the future?
Leptospirosis is generally considered to leave no permanent sequelae, although renal dysfunction, as manifested by electrolyte imbalances, may persist for days or weeks after acute illness resolves. Severe pulmonary hemorrhage and liver disease are not known to lead to persistent or progressive organ dysfunction.

3. We have a pond/lake/river, should we get it tested for leptospirosis?
There is little point in testing fresh surface water for leptospira. The test only detects the organisms in a small volume of the water and at a single time point. It is also expensive and lengthy (6 weeks). A different area of the surface water body could have leptospira present or they could be present shortly after the test was taken.
These simple precautions should minimize the risk to any of the water users:
  • Cover cuts, scratches or sores with a waterproof plaster and thoroughly clean cuts or abrasions received during activities
  • Wear appropriate protective clothing, gloves or protective footwear
  • Wash or shower promptly after water sports, especially if you fall in
  • Avoid capsize drill or rolling in stagnant or slow moving water
  • Wear thick gloves when handling rats
  • Wash hands after handling any animal, and before eating

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