What are the Different Leptospirosis Symptoms?

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  • Written By: Nat Robinson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 14 January 2020
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Leptospirosis is a kind of bacterial infection. The infection is somewhat rare and can make a person seriously ill. Leptospirosis is caused by a spirochete bacteria known as leptospira. This bacterial infection can be contagious and easily spread. Leptospirosis symptoms may take from several days to multiple weeks to show in a person with the condition.

Generally, leptospirosis is spread by animals. Animals, most commonly wild, such as raccoons, foxes, rats and skunks pass the bacteria causing leptospirosis in their urine. If a human comes into contact with water or soil contaminated by this urine, the person can develop the infection. For instance, if an individual touches contaminated soil or water then touches his or her mouth, nose or eyes, the person may expose him or herself to the infectious bacteria. In addition, drinking contaminated water or eating vegetation grown in contaminated soil may equally cause exposure.


Although, people living in any area can get leptospirosis, it is most common amongst individuals living in tropical areas where rainfall is very frequent. This infection is most common in these areas because the bacteria causing the infection can survive for extended periods of time in the wet grounds and bodies of water. In addition, certain recreational activities and occupations can make a person more likely to get the infection. Individuals who swim in fresh water or kayak and canoe as recreational activities may be more at risk. As the infection is spread predominantly by animals, veterinarians and farmers may be more susceptible to the infection as well.

Leptospirosis symptoms may show up soon or up to a month after being infected by the bacteria. Often, leptospirosis symptoms can mimic flulike symptoms. A person may complain of chills, fever, diarrhea, vomiting and headaches. Some people may develop a very dry cough. Eye pain and muscle aches may also be experienced.

Although not as common, it is possible to hear abnormal sounds in the lungs in a person with this infection. This symptom may only be caught during a physical examination. An individual with leptospirosis may also have rigidity and tenderness in the muscles. A swollen liver or spleen may be experienced as well, although this is not particularly common.

More serious leptospirosis symptoms may occur as the infection progresses. Serious symptoms may include severe abdominal pain, joint aches and pain in the bones. Some people may develop a rash, swollen lymph glands and a sore throat. A stiff neck may be a symptom as the illness worsens. Meningitis and nerve inflammation in the brain and eyes are amongst the most severe complications.

A blood test and a urinalysis or urine test will generally be done to diagnose leptospirosis. Under most circumstances, antibiotics are used to treat leptospirosis symptoms. Often, antibiotics are prescribed in very high doses to combat an infection of this nature. Hospitalization may be required for severely sick individuals with the infection. If hospitalization is required, an antibiotic treatment will begin by being administered intravenously.


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