Treating leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is usually treated with a course of antibiotics, although their effectiveness has not been conclusively proven.

Most cases of leptospirosis are mild andare treated with a five to seven-day course of antibiotic tablets. Penicillin oratetracycline antibiotic called doxycycline are the preferred choices.

It's importantto finish the course of antibiotics, even if you are feeling better. This is because stopping treatment before all of the bacteria have been killed may trigger theinfection to return.

Painkillers such as paracetamol and Painkillers, ibuprofen are available over the counter andcan be used to help relieve symptoms such as a headache, a high temperature, and muscle pain.

Severe leptospirosis

If you develop a more severe leptospirosis infection, you will need to beadmitted to hospital. The underlying infection will be treated with antibiotics injected directly into the bloodstream (intravenously).

If your organshave been damaged, the functions of your body may need to be supported. For example, you may need:

  • a ventilator to assist your breathing
  • dialysis ,where the functions of your kidneys are artificially replicated by removing waste materials from your blood
  • intravenous fluids to restore the fluids and nutrients in your body

Some people may be well enough to leave hospital within a few weeks, while others may require several months of hospital care. It depends on how well you respond to antibiotics and the extent of any organ damage.

Leptospirosis and pregnancy

It's difficult to predict how a leptospirosis infection will affect pregnancy. In some cases, the infection can spread to the unborn child and be fatal.

If you develop the symptoms of leptospirosis during pregnancy (even mild symptoms), you may be admitted to hospital so you can be monitored.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 22 Aug 2016