Infectious Disease Epidemiology Program
Zoonotic - Leptospirosis
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals. It is caused by bacteria of
the genus Leptospira. In humans it causes a wide range of symptoms, and some infected persons may have
no symptoms at all. Symptoms of leptospirosis include high fever, severe headache, chills, muscle aches,
and vomiting, and may include jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea,
or a rash. If the disease is not treated, the patient could develop kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation
of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, and respiratory distress. In rare
cases death occurs.
Many of these symptoms can be mistaken for other diseases. Leptospirosis is confirmed by laboratory testing of a blood or urine sample.