Leptospira interrogans is a spiral-shaped bacterium known as a spirochete. It leads to leptospirosis, an infectious disease that most often affects people close to contaminated water, soil, or animals that contaminate the ground with infected urine. Untreated, leptospirosis can be life-threatening, so it is important to recognize the symptoms and see a medical professional promptly.
Symptom: High Fever and Chills
There is a wide range of symptoms in humans when it comes to leptospirosis. The signs are so variable that they range from nonspecific that mimics other illnesses to no symptoms whatsoever. Nevertheless, a high fever is one of the first symptoms of leptospirosis. While the internal body temperature for a human is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, a severe fever is 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit and higher. If you reach this level, seek medical care. Even though you are warmer than usual, chills are often associated with leptospirosis as well.
Symptom: Headache and Muscle Aches
Since leptospirosis causes a high fever, you might also experience a headache. Besides that, this infection can also cause muscle aches throughout your body. You will most likely notice symptoms within two days after contact with the bacterium. At times, it can take up to a month to trigger the symptoms.
Symptom: Vomiting and Diarrhea
Vomiting and diarrhea are other signs of this bacterial infection. These six symptoms (high fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, and diarrhea) are considered the first phase of leptospirosis. You might recover for a while but fall ill again unless you seek medical help. Treatment is required to combat leptospirosis.
Symptom: Abdominal Pain
At this condition of the infection, leptospirosis is known as Weil’s disease. You will experience the second phase of symptoms including abdominal problems associated with organ dysfunction. You develop meningitis or have bleeding of the lungs. This is known as severe pulmonary hemorrhage syndrome if you do not treat leptospirosis in its early stages.
Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and white part of the eyes. You may also experience itchiness with jaundice as well as dark urine and pale feces. If you notice your skin changing in color to a yellow or greenish shade, visit your doctor. You must discover the underlying cause of jaundice.
Symptom: Red Eyes or a Rash
Besides yellowish eyes, you may also have red eyes because of leptospirosis. A rash might also develop. Keep in mind that humans experience a wide range of symptoms when it comes to leptospirosis. While these signs might be mistaken for another disease, other people might have only flu-like symptoms. Some infections do not display a rash, red eyes, or any other signs of coming contact with contaminated water or soil.
A high fever and flu-like symptoms of leptospirosis will most likely send you to the doctor office or emergency room. A blood test may be required, but the bacterium needs to be isolated to properly diagnose this infection. After proper diagnosis, you and your doctor can create a recovery regime that is best for your condition and lifestyle.
After diagnosis, antibiotics are effective in treating the disease. Penicillin or Doxycycline will clear your body of the infection. Common brand names for these antibiotics include Vibramycin, Adoxa, Atridox, or Adoxa. Even if you are feeling better, make sure you complete the entire prescription. You and your medical provider can discuss the risks and benefits.
Treatment: Intravenous Antibiotics
If you have more severe symptoms associated with leptospirosis, you may need intravenous antibiotics to recover. This requires you to stay in the hospital with the IV until you are healthier. A Leptospira interrogans bacteria infection has a good prognosis for recovery. A vaccine is even available in some countries, but not in the United States.
Recovery can take up to several months the longer you wait for treatment. After the second phase of leptospirosis begins, you can develop serious complications including respiratory distress, kidney damage, liver failure, or meningitis. In rare cases, leptospirosis can be fatal. It is crucial you seek immediate treatment for leptospirosis if you experience any of the early or later symptoms.