What Is Leptospirosis?
With each Indian monsoon, we read more about Leptospirosis cases on the rise, but very few really know the answer to the question - "What is Leptospirosis?" Even those who have already suffered from Leptospirosis mostly have no idea about how they contracted the disease. All we know about Leptospirosis is that it spreads through overflowing rain water. To find out what Leptospirosis really is and how we can prevent it, we asked Dr. Verinder Anand from Moolchand Medcity some questions.
Dr. Anand explains, “Leptospirosis is an infectious disease caused by a type of bacteria (leptospira interrogans bacteria), which typically grows in the rainy season. Humans and animals are most likely to contract leptospirosis by drinking contaminated water.”
How does Leptospirosis spread? “Leptospirosis spreads in the urine or placental material of infected animals and spreads in the water or soil that’s contaminated with infected urine. Though it does not spread from person to person, the infection enters through broken, grazed or cut skin (especially on the hands and feet), and sometimes through the lining of the mouth, nose and eyes. Leptospirosis is most common with sewer workers and we are infected during floods when sewers overflow.” says Dr. Anand.
Here's how you can prevent Leptospirosis:
- Avoid swimming especially when you have cuts or abrasions.
- Wear protective rubber gloves, shoes and full sleeves clothes while moving around sewers or walking in mud or moist soil.
- Wash your hands with soap, as leptospira bacteria are quickly killed by soap, disinfectants and drying.
- Banish rodents and remove food sources that are close to your housing.
Dr. Anand shares the warning signs of Leptospirosis: “The symptoms usually appear 10 days after infection and may include one or more of the following symptoms - intense headaches, severe myalgia or muscle pain, abdominal pain, nausea, chills, rash on the skin, conjunctivitis and diarrhea. In one out of ten cases, leptospirosis may develop to its severe stage - Weil's disease, which can result in liver damage, jaundice, kidney failure and internal bleeding. Mostly patients require hospitalisation as sometimes this can be fatal.”
If you are hospitalised for Leptospirosis, you are put on antibiotics. Dr. Anand explains further, “Mostly leptospirosis treatment involves high doses of antibiotics. Diagnosis of the disease can take some time, hence antibiotics are given prior to confirming the diagnosis. In case of severely ill patients, antibiotics are pumped intravenously along with intensive medical care.”
He concludes, “There are many different strains of leptospira bacteria, therefore it is possible for someone to be infected with another strain and develop leptospirosis again.” What can one do at home for some relief, if medical care is a few hours away? “For relief from fever, sponging is the best stop-gap solution and oral rehydration fluids are advised to the patients,” says Dr. Verinder Anand.
*Images courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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