Leptospirosis is a disease caused by Leptospira bacteria. Also known as Weil’s or Canecutter’s disease, it is contracted when grazed or cut skin (most commonly hands or feet) is infected by animal urine or other animal fluid, or soil or water contaminated by urine or other animal fluid. It has an incubation period of between two and 30 days but normally about 10 days.

Most commonly, people infected are individuals whose work includes contact with animals and/or soil or water contaminated with the urine of infected animals.

Normally a sudden-onset illness, symptoms include fever, headaches, severe muscle pain nausea, vomiting and bloodshot eyes. The fever may fluctuate, and in some cases, a skin rash, impaired liver function resulting in jaundice (yellowing of the skin), confusion, depression, kidney failure or even meningitis may occur. The severity of symptoms can vary in each case. Further complications due to infection include kidney, heart and lung damage. In some instances, these complications can cause death.

Fact sheet on Leptospirosis