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Definition  

Leptospirosis is a rare, but potentially serious, bacterial infection. It is most common in warm, tropical conditions, and it spreads easily.

With prompt and proper treatment, prognosis is usually good. If untreated, complications may develop that can potentially be fatal.

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Causes  

Leptospirosis is caused by specific bacteria resulting from contact with fresh water, wet or dampened soil, or vegetation that has been soiled by urine from an infected animal.

When contact is made with the contaminated material, the bacteria enter the body through open sores or wounds in the skin, or through mucous membranes. When the bacteria has entered the body, it flows into the bloodstream and throughout the body, causing infection.

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Risk Factors  

The following people are at an increased risk of developing leptospirosis:

  • Canoeists
  • Rafters
  • Swimmers in lakes, rivers, and streams
  • Workers in flood plains
  • Workers in wet agricultural settings
  • People who have pets, particularly dogs or livestock
  • People who work with the land, including farmers, ranchers, loggers, and rice-field workers
  • People who work with animals, including veterinarians
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Symptoms  

Symptoms typically appear about 10 days after infection and may include one or more of the following:

  • Sudden fever, chills, pain, and headache
  • Dry cough
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Aching joints
  • Sore throat
  • Painful bones
  • Abdominal pain
  • Rigid muscles
  • Rash on the skin
  • Yellow skin and eyes
  • Reduced urine output
  • Neck stiffness
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Diagnosis