Leptospirosis

July 2017


Definition


Leptospiroses are conditions caused by bacteria of the spirochetes genus. This condition is mostly found in places where a hot and humid climate prevails. Some mammals, such as mice, rats or dogs are carriers of germs that cause disease. Leptospirosis can be transmitted to humans by bite, contact with a dead animal, its tissues or its urine, by consuming food contaminated by these animals, or by swimming in contaminated water. Some occupations are particularly at risk of developing leptospirosis, including farmers, slaughterhouse personnel or persons that intervene in sewers.

Symptoms


The clinical signs of the disease are highly variable from one individual to another. In the typical description, there is:
- a sudden onset with fever and chills;
- widespread pain: abdominal pain, muscle pain, headache
- an increase in the size of the spleen;
- a rash;
- after a few days of development, jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and eyeballs, indicating liver damage. This phase is not always present;
- Many other organs may be affected in a manner inconsistent and cause clinical signs in the lungs with coughing, the blood vessel system with petechiae, small outlets of blood vessels visible in the form of red spots on the skin, or bleeding gums or nose;
- a gradual decrease in body temperature after a few days.

Diagnosis


The diagnosis of leptospirosis can be difficult to make because of the multitude of possible clinical presentations. Recent travel to highly exposed countries will be evocative. A blood test can underline some suspected biological signs such as an increase in white blood cells and a decrease in blood platelets. The diagnosis is based on serology performed on a blood sample that shows antibodies characteristic of the disease.

Treatment


The treatment is based on the use of antibiotics. Meanwhile, the possible complications caused by the infection of different organs must also be addressed.

Prevention


To avoid contracting leptospirosis, avoid contact with animals or areas that favor the spread of the bacteria, including swimming in fresh water in a country at risk. Professionals should wear appropriate protection. A vaccine exists and is recommended for certain exposed professions.

Related

Published by Jeff. Latest update on June 22, 2013 at 05:58 AM by Jeff.
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