What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease which it develops due to infection with a bacterium called leptospira. Second information published by Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)approximately 500,000 cases of this disease occur worldwide each year.

Human-to-human transmission is rare; Generally, the infection occurs when there is contact with the urine of infected animals, or with environments contaminated by it. To find out more, below we detail more about the pathogen and its risks.

Know the pathogen that causes leptospirosis

First, and as usual, it is convenient to know the microorganism that causes this disease. The bacterium in question is questioning leptospira, of the order spirochetal.

Thanks to its elongated and twisted shape and the hooked flagella at both ends, it can give the wrong perception that it is a microscopic worm.

However, they are prokaryotic organisms, that is, they have only one cell, so their structural complexity is lower than that of any annelid.

observe the bacteria
The bacterium known as leptospira interrogans is the cause of leptospirosis.

A complex biological cycle

The main reservoirs of the leptospira bacterium are wild mammals, such as beavers, foxes or raccoons. Transmission is easy It is sufficient to put a wound or a mucous membrane in contact with the urine of the infected animal.

So that, the human being would be an accidental host of the parasitic bacterium in question; it is not within its life cycle, but causes a clinical picture.

How does leptospirosis arise?

As we have already mentioned, there is a high probability of contracting leptospirosis in infected areas, as it is transmitted through urine and it can remain active in water or on land for more than four weeks.

Second information of National Library of Medicine In the United States, people can get the disease from coming into contact with water or soil that has been soiled with contaminated urine. There are also risks from direct contact with infected animals.

Once it enters the body through mucous areas or superficial wounds, transiently multiplies in various parts of the body, until it settles permanently in the kidneys and liver.

clinical picture

The incubation period is usually from one week to 12 days and in this first phase symptoms similar to those of the common cold are observed. Depending on the severity and the serotype of the bacteria, the disease can be prolonged over time with more severe symptoms. These may include the following:

  • Neck stiffness.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Jaundice.
  • Difficulty breathing.

The disease lasts from a few days to weeks, depending on the severity of each case. Although, for everyone’s peace of mind, most diagnosed patients do not progress beyond the first stage; have mild discomfort or are asymptomatic.

With all the data we’ve seen exposed, it’s natural to suspect which groups are most likely to get the disease: communities in low-income countries with access to contaminated water.

  • An act as simple as an infected wild mammal urinating on a waterhole is reason enough to cause an endemic (localized episodes of the disease in small areas) of leptospirosis.
  • Floods also favor the expansion of this bacterium, as mixtures of water can be generated which increase the contact of the current with contaminated soils.
Woman with infectious disease
In its first stage, leptospirosis presents with symptoms similar to those of the common cold.

Should we be concerned about this disease?

Not at the beginning. If it is true that it is the most widespread zoonosis in the world, present in both developed and developing countries, Its incidence is greatest in tropical areas with little control over water resources.

On an individual level, people who work with livestock or wild animals, farmers, among others, are risk groups. However, with a number of precautions you should not be affected by the disease. After all, bacteria don’t enter the body unless dirty hands come into contact with mucous membrane areas or contaminated water is consumed.

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