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Leptospirosis (cont.)

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What is the incubation period for leptospirosis?

The incubation period for leptospirosis is approximately seven to 12 days but it may range from two to 30 days.

What are risk factors for leptospirosis?

Risk factors include occupational exposure in people to with farm animals, wild animals, and to contaminated water and soil (farmers, slaughterhouse workers, veterinarians, miners, military personnel, disaster workers and victims, for example). People who participate in outdoor activities such as camping or kayaking are also at higher risk for infection. Any exposure to sewage or animal waste, including stools from infected dogs, increases the risk of getting leptospirosis. Heavy rainfall may cause the bacterial infection to increase in a population that experiences flooding. This is evidenced by a reported four deaths from leptospirosis due to flooding in Puerto Rico.

What are leptospirosis symptoms and signs?

The symptoms and signs of leptospirosis are variable and are similar to those seen in many other diseases (dengue fever, hantavirus, brucellosis, malaria, and others). Symptoms can arise about two days to four weeks after exposure to the bacteria. Although some people have no symptoms, others may exhibit

These symptoms usually occur in the first phase of the infection, and when present, they often occur abruptly. Some patients resolve their symptoms and do not progress to the second phase. Others may seem to briefly recover but relapse (about 5%-10%) with more severe symptoms and organ damage in the severe form of the disease. The second-phase symptoms may overlap with the first-phase symptoms in severe disease and include the following:

  • Jaundice
  • Renal failure (kidney damage)
  • Pulmonary hemorrhage
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Pneumonitis
  • Septic shock

This is the second phase of leptospirosis, called Weil's disease. If it's not treated, it may not resolve for several months, and some patients may develop long-term complications such as kidney and lung problems. The death rate is about 1%-5%.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/12/2017


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