What is Leptospirosis?

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Leptospirosis refers to an infection that is caused by a type of bacteria called Leptospira. This disease is usually transmitted to human beings when unhealed breaks on the skin come in contact with soil or water that is contaminated with urine of animals. Additionally, bacteria that cause this disease can also enter through the mucous membranes or the eyes. The types of animals that commonly transmit this bacterial infection include, rats, opossums, raccoons, and skunks.

Leptospirosis commonly occurs in tropical regions, but there are more reported cases of this disease in non-tropical urban cities which have poor sanitation. This bacterial infection can be categorized into two types, namely Mild Leptospirosis and Severe Leptospirosis. Ninety percent of cases are classified as Mild Leptospirosis, and this type is characterized by chills, pain in the muscles, and headache. On the other hand, the more severe type poses risk of internal hemorrhage, organ failure, and even death.

Symptoms of this disease usually manifest 1 to 2 weeks after the individual became infected. Aside from chills, headache, and muscle pains, other symptoms of Mild Leptospirosis include high fever, pain on the skin, poor appetite, coughing, nausea, diarrhea, and red eyes. The condition of the patient may improve within one week without treatment, or it could also worsen and develop into Severe Leptospirosis.

As mentioned, Severe Leptospirosis can affect the major organs of the patient. When the liver, heart, and kidneys are already infected, the individual may experience irregular heartbeat, nausea, fatigue, panting, nosebleed, chest pains, decreased appetite, sudden weight loss, jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin), and muscle pains. Leptospirosis can also affect the brain and cause symptoms, such as disorientation, seizures, photophobia, confusion, stiff neck, high fever, difficulty in speaking and moving, as well as unusual behavior. The most fatal complication of this disease is when the lungs become affected and lose function. The patient may not be able to breath and may cough up blood, which sometimes lead to choking.

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