WHAT IS LEPTOSPIROSIS?
Many areas throughout Southern California have seen an increase in cases of Leptospirosis. But what is this infection and how can we protect our families, the two and four-legged members, from this pathogen?
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals caused by the bacteria Leptospira. The bacteria can be carried through bodily fluids (such as urine, except saliva) from infected animals. The pathogen can survive in contaminated soil and water for weeks to months. The many types of domestic and wild animals that could be infected with Leptospirosis are cattle, pigs, horses, dogs, rodents, and many more. Not all infected animals and humans exhibit symptoms. The most common form of transmission is through contaminated water.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF LEPTOSPIROSIS?
In humans, Leptospirosis causes high fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, vomiting, jaundice, red eyes abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rash. Because these symptoms are like many conditions, Leptospirosis can be mistaken for other conditions.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF LEPTOSPIROSIS?
Leptospirosis is common in temperate or tropical climates. The CDC cites that incidence of Leptospirosis infection among urban children appears to be increasing. The risk of Leptospirosis for those who participate in outdoor activities in temperate or tropical climates is greater.
HOW IS LEPTOSPIROSIS TREATED?
Leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics, such as doxycycline or penicillin. Severe symptoms are treated with intravenous antibiotics. Treatment and diagnosis for Leptospirosis should be monitored by a health care provider or veterinarian.
HOW IS LEPTOSPIROSIS PREVENTED?
Prevention of acquiring Leptospirosis includes avoiding contaminated water and urine. Protective clothing and footwear to reduce the risk of exposure to contaminated soil and water may be worn. Keep rodent problems, such as rats and animal pests, under control to prevent the spread of pathogens.
The clinical signs of Leptospirosis vary and are non-specific. Prevention minimizes exposure and treatment and diagnosis with a veterinarian is required.