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Leptospirosis

Marta A. Guerra DVM, MPH, PhD, DACVPM1
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  • 1 Bacterial Zoonoses Branch, Division of Foodborne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, National Center for Zoonotic, Vectorborne and Enteric Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333.

Leptospirosis, a bacterial zoonotic disease with a worldwide distribution, is caused by spirochetes of the genus Leptospira. Leptospirosis encompasses a wide spectrum of clinical disease in humans, including multiorgan failure with a high mortality rate. Because of the lack of specific symptoms associated with this disease, it is difficult to make an accurate diagnosis in a timely manner. In 1886, Adolph Weil 1 was one of the first to describe the severe or icteric form of leptospirosis in Heidelberg, Germany. Descriptions of the disease among agricultural workers and miners in Japan and China were reported earlier. 2