Leptospirosis is a disease caused by bacteria in the urine of infected animals. In NYC, rats are the most common cause of leptospirosis. Most infections occur from contact with the urine of an infected animal. Infections can also happen through contaminated water, soil or food. Bacteria can enter the body through the eyes, nose, mouth or an open wound. Leptospirosis is not usually spread from person to person.
Leptospirosis is rarely found in NYC, but the number of people diagnosed in the city has increased in recent years.
You can become sick between two days and four weeks after exposure. Some infected people may have no symptoms. Others may have a mild illness with:
On rare occasions, severe illness can develop. This may cause kidney failure, liver failure or meningitis.
Rats are the most common source of leptospirosis. The best way to prevent leptospirosis is to avoid contact with rats. You can prevent leptospirosis by also following these tips:
See a health care provider if you think you have leptospirosis. You may need to take blood tests or start antibiotics.
Leptospirosis has been reported in dogs throughout the city. Ask your veterinarian if your dog should get vaccinated.
Symptoms of leptospirosis in dogs include:
If you think your pet may have leptospirosis, contact your veterinarian immediately.