Leptospirosis: A Disease Seen in Both Animals and Humans

What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis, also known as Lepto, is an infectious disease that is caused by Leptospira.  This is a spiral shaped bacterium that is thin and flexible. The spirochete can cause acute febrile illness and conditions involving kidney and liver disease after it penetrates the skin. It is known to be a zoonotic disease, meaning both humans and animals can get it.


Can my dog or cat get Lepto?

If a dog comes into contact with water that is contaminated with the spirochete, urine from wildlife or other dogs that are carrying the disease and shedding it, then there is a possibility that your dog may get Lepto. This may also increase the chances of your dog passing on the disease to you as well.


Why is the disease (Leptospirosis) still unknown to many?

The disease is not known by many because it has not been seen through a large number of cases in the U.S. However, it has been seen, and is more common in other parts of the world (developing countries). Although the disease is rare here in the states, there is a need to take precautions against the disease. It is also very necessary to be aware of the risks involved when we do not protect ourselves from it.


Do you believe that the disease will be more known about throughout the entire world in about 5 years?

I do believe the disease will be more known about in a few more years. The process might take a while, but the public will be more informed in another five years. I am just really hoping that they will not be more informed about it once it is too late (outbreaks). One can only hope that any disease is under control before it is widely spread (in large percentages) worldwide.


What can we do to spread information on the disease at a faster rate?

I believe that the best way to spread information at a faster rate is by informing the public through programs, community classes, through our educational system, by teaching our children, and by informing our families, friends, and coworkers. People today are on social media 24/7. That is another great way to spread information about leptospirosis or any other zoonotic disease. We might be surprised in seeing some great results by taking these actions.


Can we safely assume that the general public will take more precautions and use better methods of protection against the disease once they are informed about it?

I believe that the only time we can safely assume that the general public will take more precautions and use better methods of protection against the disease is really after they are informed about it and once they have taken a short class or have seen a lecture of some sort. These lectures can even be informal, such as a youtube video or the video of a resident in the Bronx, NY that was infected with leptospirosis.


This is an unfortunate situation that was only taken seriously after the fact that one resident died, another one was in the hospital, and the residents were outraged and expressed their anger in a meeting with their landlord and the city. These are situations that should be avoided as best possible.


No one should have to suffer or experience such difficulties. Once the general public sees how badly this disease can affect people and the entire community, they will also realize that the disease can spread at an accelerated rate anywhere. I think then we can safely assume that they will take good precautions and use good methods of protection.



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