A unusual disease that is caused by a form of spirochaete bacterium harboured by rodents and excreted through their urine. It is generally passed onto humans by contact with contaminated soil or water.
Symptoms of leptospirosis develop one to three weeks after infection. They include chills, fever, extreme headache, skin rash, and intense muscles aches. If the disease is left untreated, the nervous system can also be affected, usually producing signs of meningitis (inflammation of the membranes covering over the brain). The most serious form of leptospirosis is called Weil’s disease; it causes widespread internal bleeding, as well as liver and kidney damage.
Antibiotic drugs are useful but the recovery of the liver and kidney function can be slow.