Leptospirosis – Australia
In Australia, a 70-year-old man caught leptospirosis from mice.
The man couldn’t walk and he sweated all night. He also experienced kidney and liver failure.
One person was infected and hospitalized.
People need to be careful about drinking or swimming in creeks, rivers or lakes contaminated by the urine of infected animals. Waters affected by heavy rain or flooding are especially risky.
Photo: Electron micrograph of leptospira bacteria.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals. In humans, it can cause a wide range of symptoms, some of which may be mistaken for other diseases. Some infected persons, however, may have no symptoms at all.
Signs and symptoms can range from none to mild (headaches, muscle pains, and fevers) to severe (bleeding in the lungs or meningitis).
The bacteria are spread to humans through animal urine, or water and soil contaminated with animal urine, coming into contact with the eyes, mouth, nose or breaks in the skin.
Without treatment, Leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death.
The disease was historically known as "rice field jaundice" in ancient Chinese texts, "autumn fever", "seven-day fever", and "nanukayami fever" in Japan. The bacterium causing the disease was identified in 1908 in Japan.
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