What are leptospirosis symptoms and treatment? Viruses, diseases, and infections usually get passed from one person to another. Most diseases are spread by human transmission, either by bodily waste or fluid. However, there are some diseases that can be acquired by humans through animals. These types of diseases are called zoonotic diseases.
Leptospirosis is a common zoonotic disease. Despite its low prevalence in some parts of the world, leptospirosis is regarded as the most widespread zoonotic disease worldwide. Data shows that there are 1 million cases of leptospirosis per year, with 59,000 leptospirosis-related deaths worldwide.
What is Leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that mainly occurs in animals but can be transmitted to human beings as well. It’s caused by spiral-shaped bacteria called “leptospires” or spirochetes. This bacteria can affect the liver, kidneys, and other organs in both humans and animals.
This disease can be acquired by many different domestic and wild animals namely:
- Marine mammals
- Dogs, rarely cats
Animals can get infected with leptospira bacteria in many ways. Since leptospirosis is mainly transmitted through infected urine, animals can get infected by drinking contaminated water or coming into contact with contaminated soil. The bacteria that cause leptospirosis can enter through the animal’s eyes, nose, and mouth, which are the most important reservoirs for maintained transmission.
Humans can get infected with leptospirosis through environmental exposure::
- Entry into humans can be through cuts and abrasions in the skin, through intact mucous membranes in the nose, mouth, eyes, and through waterlogged skin
- Coming in contact with an infected animal’s urine, or other body fluids except for saliva
- Coming in contact with soil, water, or food that’s been contaminated with an infected animal’s urine
- Leptospires occasionally enter the human body via the inhalation of droplets of urine of infected animals or via drinking water
However, a person infected with leptospirosis is unlikely to directly infect someone else. Outbreaks are usually associated with heavy rainfall and flooding, which increases the risk of exposure to contaminated water.