Zoonoses

Leptospirosis

Last reviewed November 2013

Leptospirosis Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (LERG)

Full details

Leptospirosis is an infection in rodents and other wild and domesticated species. Rodents are implicated most often in human cases. The infection in man is contracted through skin abrasions and the mucosa of the nose, mouth and eyes. Exposure through water contaminated by urine from infected animals is the most common route of infection. Human-to-human transmission is rare.

Outdoor and agricultural workers (rice-paddy and sugarcane workers for example) are particularly at risk but it is also a recreational hazard to those who swim or wade in contaminated waters. In endemic areas the number of leptospirosis cases may peak during the rainy season and even may reach epidemic proportions in case of flooding because the floods cause rodents to move into the city.

Flooding

Prevention strategies of human leptospirosis include wearing protective clothing for people at occupational risk and avoidance of swimming in water that may be contaminated. Leptospirosis control in animals is dependent on the serovar and animal species but may be either vaccination, a testing a culling programme, rodent control or a combination of these strategies.

Wet land

Surveillance

The attached excerpt provides WHO recommended standards and strategies for the surveillance, prevention and control of Leptospirosis. This section is part of a larger document entitled "WHO recommended standards and strategies for surveillance, prevention and control of communicable diseases " developed by the WHO Emerging Diseases and Pandemic Response Department (EPR), in collaboration with the Department Food Safety and Zoonoses (FOS), for major zoonoses involving livestock. Each section, after giving essential information on the main characteristics of the disease and its causative agent(s) and mode of transmission, provides definitions for possible, probable and definite cases of the disease as well as the rational for surveillance and WHO recommended systems for surveillance. Major control and prevention activities in humans and animal hosts are also described. A list of WHO reference materials is provided at the end.

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