Foodborne Illness

What Is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease caused by bacteria in the genus Leptospria. This disease can affect humans and animals. It can cause a wide range of symptoms. Some people with the disease have no symptoms at all. Without treatment this illness can lead to even more dangerous issues.

The Infection

The bacteria in Lepospirosis comes from urine of infected animals which gets in water and soil. When animals such as cattle, dogs, pigs, horses and wild animals get the bacteria, they may have no symptoms. Humans become infected with the illness through contact with infected fluids from the infected animal, or water, soil, or food from the infected animal. An estimated seven to ten million people get the illness every year.


For humans, Leptospirosis has a wide range of symptoms. They include:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Red Eyes
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Rash
  • Vomiting
These symptoms might be mistaken for other diseases.

Who Is At Risk For Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis occurs worldwide. The disease is most common in temperate or tropical climates. Anyone who has an occupation where you are outside or with animals might be at risk. They may include:

  • Sewer Workers
  • Farmers
  • Fish Workers
  • Veterinarians and animal caretakers
  • Slaughterhouse workers
This disease has also been associated with kayaking swimming and other activities that occur in lakes and rivers.


To greatly reduce your risk of Liptospirosis do not swim in water that may be contaminated like lakes and rivers. Do not come in contact with an infected animal, their urine or fluids. Wear protective clothing and footwear in case you become in contact with contaminated water or soil.


Leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics like doxycycline or penicillin if the disease is caught early. In severe cases intravenous antibiotics may be required. Along with medications, Leptospirosis only last a few days to a week. If you think you might have been infected contact your health care provider.