Symptoms of leptospirosis

The symptoms of leptospirosis usually develop suddenly around7 to 14 days after exposure to the leptospira bacteria.

However, it is possible for symptoms to develop from between 2and 30 days after exposure.

About 90% of leptospirosis infections only causemild symptoms, including:

  • a high temperature (fever) that is usually between 38C and 40C (100.4-104-F)
  • chills
  • sudden headaches
  • nausea and vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle pain, particularly affecting the muscles in the calves and lower back
  • Conjunctivitis (irritation and redness of the eyes)
  • cough
  • a short-lived rash

These symptoms usually resolve within five to seven days. However, in about 10% of cases people go on to experience more serious symptoms.

Severe leptospirosis

Severeleptospirosis infections are sometimes called Weil's disease. The symptoms of a severe infection usually develop one to three days after the more mild symptoms have passed.

If the condition progresses to a severe infection, it may affect organs, including the brain, liver, kidneys, heartand lungs. This can lead to further symptoms, including:

  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes)
  • swollen ankles, feet or hands
  • chest pain
  • symptoms of meningitis or encephalitis , such as headaches,vomiting and seizures
  • shortness of breath
  • coughing up blood

If left untreated, the infectionmay be lifethreatening, and could lead to brain damage, kidney failure , internal bleeding and loss of lung function.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 22 Aug 2016