Leptospirosis

Cause: Spiral shaped bacteria spirochetes) in the genus Leptospira.

Illness and treatment: Symptoms include fever, headache, and severe muscle aches. Jaundice, kidney failure, or meningitis can develop. Treatment is with antibiotics.

Sources: The disease affects wild and domestic animals, including pets. Urine and tissues are infective. Transmission occurs by direct skin or mucous membrane contact with urine or tissues from infected animals, or exposure to contaminated water, food, or soil, or inhalation of aerosolized fluids during recreation or farm work.

Prevention: Avoid contact with urine from infected animals and with water or soil potentially contaminated with animal urine.

Recent Washington trends: Each year there are 0 to 5 reports. Most infections relate to recreational water exposure in Washington or during travel.

Purpose of Reporting and Surveillance

  • To better understand the epidemiology of leptospirosis in Washington State.
  • To identify sources of infection (e.g., animals or contaminated water) and educate people about how to reduce their risk of infection.

Legal Reporting Requirements

  • Health care providers: notifiable to local health jurisdiction within 24 hours.
  • Health care facilities: notifiable to local health jurisdiction within 24 hours.
  • Laboratories: Leptospira species notifiable to local health jurisdiction within 24 hours; specimen submission is on request only.
  • Veterinarians: Suspected human cases notifiable within 24 hours to the local health jurisdiction; animal cases notifiable to Washington State Department of Agriculture (see: https://app.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=16-70).
  • Local health jurisdictions: notifiable to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Office of Communicable Disease Epidemiology (CDE) within 7 days of case investigation completion or summary information required within 21 days.