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Leptospirosis

Last update: 2022-06-07

Key facts

Transmission

  • Water contaminated by urine from an infected rodent or animal enters the eyes, nose, mouth or a skin cut
  • Water or food is consumed that is contaminated with urine from an infected rodent or animal

Symptoms

  • Can be mild.
  • Can include nausea, headaches, stomach or muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhoea or fever.
  • In severe cases, may cause jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), kidney failure, bleeding from the lungs, or meningitis.

Prevention

  • Prevent contact with contaminated water, including by wearing appropriate protective clothing or equipment
  • Shower or bath after water sports
  • Wear protective clothes during contact with animals
  • Employ social mobilization and behaviour change communication
  • Use safe, well-maintained sources of drinking water (that cannot be contaminated during a flood)

Vulnerable people

  • People living in flooded areas (for example, after a cyclone), especially if they have poor rubbish disposal systems
  • People who work closely with animals or in sewers (including farmers, veterinarians, slaughterhouse workers, river fish workers)

If an epidemic occurs

  • Detect people sick with leptospirosis and refer them to health facilities
  • Increase social mobilization and behaviour change communication
  • Encourage people to avoid contact with contaminated water, avoid swimming or fishing, and wear appropriate personal protective equipment
  • Treat drinking water sources that may be contaminated, especially during and after floods

Community-based assessment - questions

Make a map of the community and mark the information you gather on the map. Record other details.

  • When did people start to fall sick with leptospirosis?
  • How many people have fallen sick with leptospirosis? Where?
  • How many people have died? Where?
  • How many people live in the affected community or area? How many children under five years of age live in the area?
  • Who and where are the vulnerable people?
  • Is the community (or are some parts of it) flooded?
  • Might some lakes, ponds, canals etc. in the community be contaminated?
  • Where do people obtain their drinking water? Has it been contaminated by flood water?
  • Where are the local health facilities and services? (Include traditional and community carers from whom people seek advice.)
  • What are the community’s habits, practices and beliefs about caring for and feeding sick people?
  • Is a social mobilization or health promotion programme in place?
  • Which sources of information do people use most?
  • Are rumours or is misinformation about leptospirosis spreading in the community?