According to BMC report, at least five people have died in Mumbai due to leptospirosis and dengue in the initial two months of September. Many people are being admitted to the hospital for flu and dengue-like symptoms. The number of dengue cases increased after the August 29 deluge. Out of the five, two people died of leptospirosis. A total of 34 cases of leptospirosis have been confirmed in the last two weeks by the BMC. Here’s everything you need to know about leptospirosis.

What is leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection caused by a bacteria called Leptospira. It can infect both humans and animals. It is not transmitted between humans but a person can get infected when he or she comes I contact with water or soil contaminated by the urine of an infected animal. The disease can progress to conditions like meningitis and Weil’s diseases. Leptospirosis is common in tropical regions.

What are the causes of leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection and it can also exist in animals like dogs, sheep, rats and pigs. Bacteria are usually expelled out through urine by animals. If you come in contact with water contaminated by the urine of the infected animal, then you may get infected. Other causes of the disease are drinking contaminated water, coming in contact with an infected animal’s blood and contact with contaminated soil. The bacteria enter the body through the eyes, broken skin or mucous membranes.

What are the symptoms of leptospirosis?

The symptoms of leptospirosis usually appear suddenly in about five to 14 days. The signs and symptoms of leptospirosis include diarrhea, coughing, fever, chills, muscle pain, headaches, irritated eyes, lower appetite and nausea. In severe cases, patients may experience irregular heartbeat, fatigue, muscle pain, nosebleed, nausea, swelling in the ankle or hands, pain in the chest, weight loss and panting. The disease can progress to kidney failure and meningitis.

What are the treatments available for leptospirosis?

Usually, doctors prescribe antibiotics like penicillin and tetracycline. Apart from medications, the patient is given intravenous fluid to provide him/her with essential nutrients and water.

It is better to take precautions to avoid leptospirosis. Stay away from dirty water, drink only boiled water and cover your wounds with waterproof dressing before you head out for a swim.