Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Leptospirosis facts
- What is leptospirosis?
- What causes leptospirosis?
- Is leptospirosis contagious? What is the contagious period for leptospirosis?
- What is the incubation period for leptospirosis?
- What are risk factors for leptospirosis?
- What are leptospirosis symptoms and signs?
- What specialists treat leptospirosis?
- How do physicians diagnose leptospirosis?
- What is the treatment for leptospirosis?
- What is the prognosis of leptospirosis?
- Is a vaccine available for leptospirosis? Is it possible to prevent leptospirosis?
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
- high fever,
- muscle aches and muscle pain,
- sore throat,
- abdominal pain,
- pain in the joints or muscles,
- rash, and
- reddish eyes.
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:
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%.
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