Pathophysiology: Leptospirosis is a type of bacterial infection spread by animals. It's caused by a strain of bacteria called leptospira. Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects both humans and animals. The early stages of the disease may include high fever, severe headache, muscle pain, chills, redness in the eyes, abdominal pain, jaundice, haemorrhages in skin and mucous membranes (including pulmonary bleeding), vomiting, diarrhoea and a rash. Leptospiral infection in humans causes a range of symptoms, and some infected persons may have no symptoms at all.
Treatment: Effective antibiotics include penicillin G, ampicillin, amoxicillin and Doxycycline. In more severe cases cefotaxime or ceftriaxone should be preferred.Glucose and salt solution infusions may be administered; dialysis is used in serious cases. Elevations of serum potassium are common and if the potassium level gets too high special measures must be taken. Serum phosphorus levels may likewise increase to unacceptable levels due to renal failure.
Statistics: The increase in leptospirosis notifications (77%) during 1998 possibly signalled greater awareness of the disease by clinicians. There was a significant increase in leptospirosis notifications for children and students and a high rate of hospitalisation of cases. An outbreak in North Queensland during the first half of 1999 resulted in 184 notifications with over 50% of cases hospitalised.