Leptospirosis is a blood infection caused by the spirochaete bacterium Leptospira. More than ten genetic types of Leptospira cause disease in humans.
Both wild and domestic animals can spread the disease, most commonly rodents. The bacteria are spread to humans through animal urine, or water and soil contaminated with animal urine, coming into contact with the eyes, mouth, nose or breaks in the skin. In developing countries, the disease occurs most commonly in farmers and low-income people who live in areas with poor sanitation. In developed countries, it occurs during heavy downpours and can affect those involved in outdoor activities in warm and wet areas.
Signs and symptoms can range from none to mild (headaches, muscle pains, and fevers) to severe (bleeding in the lungs or meningitis). Weil’s disease, the acute, severe form of leptospirosis, causes the infected individual to become jaundiced (skin and eyes become yellow), develop kidney failure, and bleed. Pulmonary hemorrhage in association with leptospirosis is known as “severe pulmonary haemorrhage syndrome”.