Leptospira spp. are excreted in the urine of infected animals and infection
is acquired either directly or indirectly, through exposure to urine contaminated
water or soil. Thus, those with occupational or recreational exposure, such as farmers,
veterinarians, slaughterhouse workers, sewage workers, miners, soldiers, swimmers,
sailors, divers etc. are at greatest risk. In the UK, the most commonly identified
serovars of Leptospira are L. icterohaemorrhagiae (associated with rats)
and L. hardjo (associated with cattle). Person-to-person spread is rare,
and the disease is uncommon in the UK.
Main clinical features
The disease varies depending on the infecting serovar, although any serovar can
cause many clinical presentations. All forms of leptospirosis start in a similar
way: sudden-onset severe headache, muscle pains, conjunctival suffusion and fever,
which may last for a week before subsiding. In some cases, the disease may persist
or recur and progress to a more severe characterised by meningitis, renal failure,
hepatitis and jaundice, myocarditis and death.
Usually 7 - 13 days, but can be as long as 19 days.
Voluntary laboratory reports.
Annual Surveillance Tables