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What is Leptospirosis?

What is Leptospirosis?

by Marcus Heng, Guardian Pharmacist

What is Leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is an animal-borne bacterial infection that is more common in the tropics. Main sources of transmission is through infected animal urine and contaminated soils or drinking water, which makes outbreaks common after natural disasters like flooding or hurricanes. Pets can be infected without showing symptoms and still be able to transmit the disease.

How dangerous is Leptospirosis?
After an incubation period of between 2 to 26 days, symptoms such as high fever, chills, nausea, dry cough, red eyes and headaches will begin and last for between 5 to 7 days before recovery. In about 10% of cases, Leptospirosis persists and may cause severe symptoms like coughing blood, jaundice and seizures. If untreated, the disease may lead to kidney failure, liver failure, brain damage and even death.

How can I treat an infection?
A course of antibiotics is usually prescribed, although mild cases of leptospirosis are self-limiting and may not require treatment. In severe cases, intravenous antibiotics and supportive care may be required.

How can I prevent an infection?
There is no known human vaccine for Leptospirosis, although owners may get their pets vaccinated. Human-to-human transmission is extremely rare. Avoidance and elimination of infection sources, like waterlogged soils, rodent control and hygienic eating practices are the primary mode of prevention of disease transmission.

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