Leptospirosis: Why Avoiding Contact with Rats?


Leptospirosis’, also called Mal de Adolf Weil, is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals and can be fatal. It was classified in 1907, thanks to a post mortem examination performed on a sample of kidney infection, but the disease has been identified in 1886 by German pathologist Adolf Weil (in his “homage”, the disease was called “Mal de Weil “).
It is a zoonosis caused by Leptospira bacteria type.


The diagnosis is not easy, given the variety of symptoms, common in other conditions. The final diagnosis is confirmed by serological tests such as Enzyme Detector Antibody (ELISA) and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).


As in many other infectious diseases, the clinical picture of leptospirosis varies widely from individual to individual. The patient may have provided almost no symptoms until a severe life-threatening.
The incubation period ranges from 2 to 30 days. The average is 10 days between the contamination and the onset of the symptoms of leptospirosis.
Over 75% of patients have high fever with chills, headache and muscle pain in the lower limbs and especially in the calf, where the individual is unable to move because the pain is intense. 50% have nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. A typical feature of leptospirosis is conjunctival hyperemia (red eyes dramatically).
Other possible symptoms include cough, sore throat, joint pain, abdominal pain, signs of meningitis, stains the body and swollen lymph nodes, spleen and liver.
Because the symptoms of leptospirosis are similar to those of many other febrile diseases, the most important to your diagnosis is recent exposure to risk situations such as floods or contact with water from wells, ditches, drains and sewers.
Most patients improve in a week. Sometimes the disease is biphasic, with some improvement by 2 or 3 days followed by further worsening of symptoms.
Most cases of leptospirosis benign outcome, but in about 10% of the development is more serious, complicated by acute renal failure, bleeding, liver failure and respiratory failure.
Patients usually show signs of complicated jaundice (yellowing of the skin) after the third day of illness
The final diagnosis is usually made by serology blood. Also known as rat disease.


The disease is contracted through the urine of rats. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain and hypotension.


Complications include kidney failure, meningitis, liver failure and respiratory failure, which characterizes the most serious form of the disease known as Weil’s disease or syndrome of Weil. In rare cases death occurs from lack of air.


Leptospirosis is treated with antibiotics such as doxycycline or penicillin and streptomycin or dihydrostreptomycin mainly with eliminating bacteria from the kidneys and consequently the transmission of this disease. In animals the recommendation by the law is that once the diagnosis is confirmed, the animal is euthanized immediately and the health care being taken to target the corpse and the legal procedures.

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