Leptospirosis is a disease caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira. Typically, the bacteria is contracted through contact with urine of infected animals: usually livestock or rodents in wet, humid climates. It is not uncommon and in the U.S. we have about 50 cases per year. Livestock can be vaccinated against the disease and rodent populations kept under control rarely present a problem. However, streams, rivers and ponds can be contaminated if there is a significant rat infestation.
The disease presents itself with influenza type symptoms initially and can be hard to diagnose. If you are exposed to what you consider to be contaminated water, visit your doctor and share your concerns immediately. A blood test can show the presence of the bacteria if it is there. Other symptoms may be a pinprick type rash that develops into a rash like the one pictured on the right.
If untreated the disease will cause hemmorhaging and
w ill most likely cause sore, red eyes. Jaundice may also occur. Antibiotics must be taken within the first 24 hours to minimize damage caused by the disease. If you are working in an area where leptospirosis is suspected to be a problem, wear protective gear like rubber boots and gloves and be sure not to expose any areas of broken skin to the environment.