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Alternative namesWeil disease; Icterohemorrhagic fever; Swineherd's disease; Rice-field fever; Cane-cutter fever; Swamp fever; Mud fever; Hemorrhagic jaundice; Stuttgart disease; Canicola fever
DefinitionLeptospirosis is a rare, severe, and contagious bacterial infection caused by several species of the genus Leptospira , a spiral-shaped microorganism (spirochete).
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Leptospirosis is caused by exposure to the bacteria, which can be found in fresh water contaminated by animal urine. It occurs in warmer climates.
Risk factors include:
The incidence of leptospirosis is low in the continental U.S. Hawaii has the highest number of cases in the U.S.
Signs and tests
Penicillins, tetracyclines, chloramphenicol, and erythromycin can be given to treat leptospirosis. Supportive care needs to be given in complicated cases.
Expectations (prognosis)Generally good, although deaths do occur in complicated cases if not treated promptly.
Calling your health care providerIf you have any of the signs, symptoms, or risk factors for leptospirosis, contact your health care provider.
PreventionAvoid areas of stagnant water, especially in tropical climates. If you are exposed to a high risk area, taking doxycycline may decrease your risk of developing disease.
Update Date: 8/14/2002Donna R. Cooper, MD, MPH. Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT