Leptospirosis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention - ASSISTENT DOCTOR

Leptospirosis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

ASSISTENT DOCTOR - Leptospirosis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

    Leptospirosis is a disease that can cause kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death, if left without getting treatment. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), estimates that the more common disease in the tropics affects 10 or more people than 100,000 each year. Check out the full information about the symptoms to prevention below.

What Is Leptospirosis?

    Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that infects humans and animals. The disease is caused by the bacterium leptospira interrogans, which a number of animals carry and live in the kidneys and end up in water and soil through urine. Animals that spread this bacteria mainly from dogs, rats, and farm animals.

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    When in contact with soil or water contaminated with animal urine, bacteria can enter the body through the injured skin, nose, mouth, and genitals. Although it can be transmitted through sex or breastfeeding, bacteria are rarely transmitted from person to person. The disease can also be transmitted when in contact with animals.

Signs And Symptoms Of Leptospirosis

    Signs and symptoms generally appear suddenly, usually about 5 to 14 days after having a bacterial infection leptospira interrogans. The incubation period ranges from 2 to 30 days. Here are some symptoms from mild to severe:

1. Mild Leptospirosis

The signs and symptoms of ringan leptospirosis are as follows:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Vomit
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Red and irritated eyes
  • Rash
  • Jaundice
  • Muscle pain, especially the lower back and calf

    Most of these symptoms will recover about a week without treatment, but about 10 percent of people can experience severe conditions.

2. Severe Leptospirosis

    This disease will cause signs and symptoms for several days after mild symptoms disappear. Symptoms of severe leptospirosis depend on the affected vital organs. Symptoms can cause kidney or liver failure, respiratory distress, and meningitis. This condition can be fatal.

Heart, Liver, And Kidneys

    If leptospirosis attacks the heart, liver, and kidneys, the sufferer will experience the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Nauseous
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Muscle pain
  • Nosebleed
  • Chest pain
  • No appetite
  • Swelling of the hands, feet, or ankles
  • Weight loss for no apparent reason
  • Jaundice, appearing yellowing on the white bagian of the eyes, tongue, and skin

If left untreated, symptoms of leptospirosis can lead to life-threatening kidney failure.


    If it attacks the brain or spinal cord, the disease can develop meningitis, encephalitis, or both. Meningitis is an infection of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord, while encephalitis refers to infection of brain tissue. Both conditions have similar signs and symptoms. Symptoms of leptospirosis that attacks the brain include:

  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Drowsiness
  • Stiff
  • Nauseous
  • Vomit
  • High fever
  • Stiff neck
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Problems with physical movement
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Photophobia, or sensitivity to light

Untreated meningitis or encephalitis can cause brain damage, and may even be life-threatening.


    If leptospira interrogans bacteria attack the lungs, the sufferer cannot breathe and experiences the following signs and symptoms of leptospirosis:

  • High fever
  • Panting
  • Coughing up blood

Causes Of Leptospirosis

    Leptospirosis is an infection caused by the bacterium Leptospira interrogans. These bacteria usually live on the kidneys of animals carrying the disease, which will come out through urine and settle in the soil. One of the people who commonly contract this disease is rats. If it is around the soil or water where urine-infected animals drink, these germs can attack the human body through skin gaps, such as scratches, open wounds, or dry wounds. Leptospirosis caused is also transmitted through the nose, mouth, and genitals. But transmission from humans is rare, although it can be through sex and breastfeeding.

Risk Factors For Leptospirosis

    The risk of contracting it increases if it is often in the confines of animals or outdoors that are often crossed by animals. In addition, some jobs that may be at risk of contracting leptospirosis are:

  • Farmer
  • Vet
  • Underground workers (working in sewers or mines)
  • Slaughterhouse worker
  • Military personnel

    The cause or transmission can also be through other activities such as rafting, swimming, or camping near lakes and rivers contaminated with leptospira interrogans bacteria.

Diagnosis Leptospirosis

    Mild leptospirosis is difficult to diagnose, as the symptoms resemble those of the flu and other infections. If severe, the patient can undergo special diagnostic tests. To help with the diagnosis, the doctor may ask about the activities that the patient went through before. Your doctor may ask you about the following:

  • Have been swimming in lakes, ponds, canals, or rivers
  • Have been in contact with any activities in slaughterhouses, on farms, or related to animal care
  • Have been in contact with urine atau animal blood

    If you have done one or more of these activities, blood and urine tests can confirm or rule out the disease.

Types Of Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a disease that is divided into two main types, following its explanation:

  • Mild leptospirosis: This is a type that occurs frequently or occurs in 90 percent of cases. Symptoms include muscle pain, chills, and headaches.
  • Severe leptospirosis: This type is rare, between 5 and 15 percent of cases can be severe. If bacteria infect the liver, kidneys, and other major organs, this can lead to organ failure, internal bleeding, and even death.

Treatment Of Leptospirosis

    This disease can be treated using drugs in the form of antibiotical, such as doxycycline or penicillin. This medicine should be used in the early stages of developing disease. Patients who experience more severe symptoms, may be given drugs in the form of intravenous antibiotics. While for patients with suggestive symptoms harus get the treatment of a doctor. During pregnancy, the disease can affect the fetus. Women who have an infection during pregnancy should get hospitalized treatment.

Prevention Of Leptospirosis

    Before moving outdoors or vacationing in a tropical climate, or dealing with water, consult a doctor first about the right precautions to take. Some of the following ways may help reduce the risk of leptospirosis, based on the place where the activity is performed, including:

1. Swimming Or Playing Water

    In non-tropical developed countries, the risk of developing leptospira interrogans bacteria is likely to be very small, not even needing to avoid water sports. However, if you often do water sports in fresh water, you should take precautions. How?

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    One of them is to make sure the body that suffered scratch wounds has been wrapped using anti-water bandages. This method can protect against various infections, including hepatitis A and giardiasis. Do not forget to clean the body by bathing after playing in fresh water.

2. Pollution At Work

    For those of you who work in contact with animals carrying this disease, water or soil that is prone to contamination of bacteria should use protective clothing and comply with work regulations. In addition to protective clothing, you should also use gloves, masks, boots, and glasses.

3. On Holiday

If you go to a common place of leptospirosis, your eating should take the following precautions:

  • Avoid swimming in fresh water
  • Drink boiled water or drink sealed bottled water
  • If there are wounds on your body, clean and wrap with anti-water bandages

4. Disaster Management

    Emergency work such as that of military personnel serving in disaster zones should use antibiotics for precautionary measures.

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