Leptospirosis – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Leptospirosis – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of a Rat Urine Disease. In addition, leptospirosis is a zoonosis, that is, a disease transmitted by animals, caused by the bacterium Leptospira interrogans. Leptospirosis is a disease that occurs worldwide, except in the poles, but has a higher incidence in the tropics. It affects people of all ages and is more common in populations with poorer sanitation conditions. Leptospirosis is a disease of mammals, especially rodents. It can also affect domestic dogs and cats, as well as farm animals such as cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, etc. The infected animal eliminates the bacteria in its urine, contaminating the soil and water.

The bacterium Leptospira interrogans is able to survive for a long time in humid environments, however, it dies quickly in dry environments. A widespread urban myth is the transmission of leptospirosis in soda or beer cans. This is an unusual route, as once the cans are dry, the bacteria become unviable. However, this mode of transmission is possible if the cans, after contact with infected urine, remain stored in damp places until consumption. Among humans, the main source of transmission is sewer rats.

Infection usually occurs after the consumption of liquids and food and also by direct skin contact, especially if there are wounds with water contaminated by the urine of these rodents. The longer the contact with the skin , the greater the risk of contagion.

Causes of Leptospirosis:  In situations of flooding and flooding, the urine of rats, present in sewers and drains, mixes with the runoff and mud from the floods. Anyone who comes into contact with contaminated rainwater or mud can become infected. Leptospires present in water penetrate the human body through the skin , especially if there is a scratch or wound.

Contact with water or sewage sludge, contaminated ponds or rivers, and vacant lots with the presence of rats can also facilitate the transmission of leptospirosis. Veterinarians and animal handlers can acquire the disease from contact with the urine of sick or convalescent animals.

Symptoms of Leptospirosis:  As with many other infectious diseases, the clinical picture of leptospirosis varies greatly from individual to individual. The patient can present from almost no symptoms to a severe, life-threatening condition. The main symptoms in animals are:

  • high fever ;
  • lack of appetite;
  • vomiting;
  • diarrhea (often bloody);
  • jaundice.

Leptospirosis Treatments: The vast majority of leptospirosis cases are self-limiting and cure is spontaneous. Therefore, it is usually treated with only symptomatic and hydration. When the diagnosis is made within the first 4 days, antibiotics such as penicillins, tetracycline (or doxycycline) and erythromycin can be used, which reduce the duration of the disease and the risk of complications. Aspirin and anti-inflammatories should be avoided as they increase the risk of bleeding .

In the most severe cases, hospitalization in the ICU and institution of more aggressive treatments such as mechanical ventilation and hemodialysis may be necessary. The vaccine does not provide permanent immunization and is only indicated for people with risky jobs, such as drains and cesspools.

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