The rainy season is that time of the year when you need to take every precaution possible to avoid water-borne diseases. Leptospirosis is a common infection during monsoon, especially amongst those who live in areas that are prone to flooding and waterlogging. The disease is caused by a form of bacteria called ‘spirochete’. It is mainly caused when humans come in direct contact with urine from infected animals, especially rodents, or through water, soil or food contaminated with infected urine, in settings of poor sanitation habits. Dr Amit Nabar, consultant, critical care & HOD, accident and emergency medicine, SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim tells us more.

Symptoms of leptospirosis 

Leptospirosis may be mistaken for dengue in the early stages.  One of the symptoms can be mild illness and is characterized by fever with chills, headache, body ache, nausea, vomiting, congestion and redness in the eyes, with the more severe form showing features of jaundice.

Phases of leptospirosis

Phase 1 usually occurs 5 to 14 days after exposure to a contaminated source with an abrupt onset of symptoms like pain in the muscles, eye pain and headaches, followed by high fever and cold. The redness of the eyes appears first and other symptoms seem to increase gradually. The patient may recover transiently but may become ill again.

If the second phase occurs, it is usually more severe with liver or kidney failure and meningitis. This phase can last from a few days to a few weeks, or longer.

Prevention of leptospirosis

Some of the things you need to keep in mind:

  • Ensure that you keep your surroundings clean and dry
  • Control the rodent population
  • Avoid wading or swimming in water that might be contaminated with the urine of infected animals
  • Avoid touching infected animals
  • Wash hands with soap and water after handling animals and animal products
  • Clean wounds as soon as possible and cover them with waterproof dressings
  • People exposed to contaminated water due to their jobs (e.g. farming/ animal husbandry) or those associated with recreational water sports, must wear protective clothing and footwear
  • Take steps to prevents exposure of pets to contaminated water