Leptospirosis Awareness: Understanding This Rodent-Borne Disease

Written by on May 9, 2013 in Health - No comments | Print this page

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baby_child_duotoneLeptospirosis is caused by the leptospira bacteria which are usually found in urine-contaminated water.

This infection usually occurs in warmer climates, but it is not transmitted from one person to another. The people who are at risk of contracting this disease are:

  • Farmers, trappers, plumbers, sewer workers, military personnel, and slaughterhouse workers.
  • Those who enjoy participating in outdoor activities, including swimming, trail biking, and canoeing in warm areas.
  • Those who have pets, livestock, or have rodent infestation problems at home.

Although Leptospirosis is rare in the United State, it is still essential to educate oneself about this infection. Leptospirosis is considered as one of the most dangerous rodent-borne diseases.

Understanding Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is known by various names, including infectious jaundice, mud fever, and swamp fever. This infection is very rare in developed countries, such as the United States. It is more widespread in regions with warmer and tropical climates.

An individual can contract this infection by swallowing and ingesting contaminated water or food, or through direct contact with contaminated soil, water, or vegetation.

Contamination occurs when food, soil, or water is mixed with animal urine that contains the bacteria Leptospira. Infected animals, such as rodents can pass the bacteria through their urine; thus, those who are living in infested households and working in underground sewers are at risk of contracting this infection.

Symptoms Of Leptospirosis

The symptoms of Leptospirosis will start to manifest between 2-26 days after the exposure to the bacteria. The average time period with which the symptoms will start to develop is between 10 days. In some rare cases, there won’t even be any symptoms at all. There are two main types of Leptospirosis:

  • Mild: The patient experiences chills, headache, and muscle pains. About 90% of Leptospirosis cases are mild.
  • Severe: This condition can be fatal. There is a huge risk of organ failure and internal bleeding. This ensues when the bacterium infects the patient’s kidneys, liver, or other organs. Children under the age of five and elderly individuals are more vulnerable to severe Leptospirosis.

The general symptoms of this condition may comprise of flu-like symptoms, such as sore throat, cough, fatigue, and muscle aches and pains. Other symptoms may affect the psychosis of the patient, such as depression and behavior changes.

If the patient starts to manifest any of these symptoms, you need to seek urgent medical treatment before life-threatening situations start to occur, such as kidney and heart failure. If the patient starts to manifest any of these severe symptoms, immediately contact emergency medical care.

  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Fainting, confusion, and change in alertness
  • Chest pain and discomfort, difficulty breathing
  • Seizure
  • Stiff neck
  • Severe bleeding from the mouth, nose, or eyes

Can This Condition Be Treated?

Yes, leptospirosis can be treated, especially if it is detected during its early stages. Patients infected with this bacterium can be treated with antibiotics which kill the bacteria and stop them from spreading. There are various types of antibiotics that are very effective in treating this condition:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Penicilin
  • Ceftriaxone
  • Ampicilin

For more serious cases, hospitalization and proper medical care is essential. Leptospirosis treatment may include good nutrition, increased fluids through IV, and plenty of rest. Of course, it is best to avoid contracting this disease in the first place.

For one, make sure that your home environment is clean and sanitary. If you have rodent problems, immediately contact a professional exterminator. Avoid performing pest control solutions on your own to prevent coming into contact with their urine or droppings.

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Kris Lim is a writer for health and wellness websites. In this article, she writes about Leptospirosis to raise awareness about this rodent-borne disease. Her readers can find more of her written works if they click here.

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