Loading icon
Press enter or spacebar to select a desired language.
Health Information Center


  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:



(Weil's Disease; Icterohemorrhagic Fever; Swineherd's Disease; Rice-Field Fever; Cane-Cutter Fever; Swamp Fever; Mud Fever; Hemorrhagic Jaundice; Stuttgart Disease; Canicola Fever)


Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection. It can be mild or severe. People with severe symptoms need treatment right away.


Certain bacteria cause leptospirosis. It is spread from the urine of infected animals. The urine gets into water, soil, and plants. The bacteria gets into the body from direct contact through:

  • Cuts in the skin
  • The mouth, nose, and eyes
  • Drinking contaminated water

Risk Factors

Leptospirosis is found all over the world. It is most common in tropical places.

The risk is higher for those who have contact with:

  • Infected animals
  • Contaminated soil or water, such as with:
    • Farming
    • Sewer work
    • Working in the military
    • Mining
    • Swimming or wading
    • Boating, canoeing, or kayaking
    • Camping


Some people do not have symptoms of leptospirosis. Those who do may have:

  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Belly pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Red eyes
  • Rash
  • Dry cough
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes

Rarely, it can lead to problems with the lungs and kidneys.


The doctor will ask about symptoms, past health, and travel history. A physical exam will be done.

Tests will be done to look for signs of infection, such as:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine studies
  • Lumbar puncture to check the fluid around the brain and spine


Leptospirosis is treated with antibiotics. People with severe symptoms may need IV antibiotics and hospital care.


The risk of leptospirosis may be lowered by avoiding soil, plants, and water that may be contaminated with animal urine. Protective clothing or footwear should also be worn in these settings.





  • Leptospirosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis.
  • Leptospirosis. EBSCO DynaMed . Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/leptospirosis.
  • Leptospirosis (Weil's disease). New York State Department of Health website. Available at: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/leptospirosis/fact_sheet.htm.
  • Mousavi S, Nasera M, et al. Current advances in urban leptospirosis diagnosis. Reviews in Medical Microbiology. 2017;28 (3):119-123.


  • David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.