Public health priority: Routine
PHU response time: Respond to confirmed cases within 3 working days. Enter confirmed cases on NCIMS within 5 working days of notification.
Case management: Case should receive appropriate antibiotics. Identify likely source.
Contact management: None routinely.
To monitor the epidemiology to inform the development of better prevention strategies.
A confirmed case requires laboratory definitive evidence only.
Leptospirosis is to be notified by laboratories on microbiological confirmation (ideal reporting by routine mail).
Only confirmed cases should be entered onto NCIMS.
Leptospirosis is transmitted by direct contact with the urine or tissues of infected animals. It can also be transmitted to humans who are in contact with water, soil or mud contaminated with infected urine, or who ingest contaminated water.
Human-to-human transmission occurs only very rarely. Blood is potentially infectious in the first week of the disease and urine is infectious from the end of the first week and can remain infectious for months. The route of infection is typically via skin cuts and abrasions or through direct contact with mucous membranes.
Often there is a history of contact with animals or exposure to environments where potentially infected animals are present. Many animals can carry Leptospira and may be completely asymptomatic. Commonly implicated animals are cattle, pigs, sheep, dogs and rats.
Outbreaks are usually related to flood waters contaminated with the urine of the infected animals.
The typical incubation period is 5 to 14 days (range 2 to 30 days).
The usual clinical presentation is fever, chills, headache, severe myalgia, (particularly of the calves, thighs and lumbar region) and conjunctival suffusion. Severity varies with the infecting serovar.
About 5 - 15% of cases progress to severe disease:
Case fatality rate increases with increasing age and comorbidities.
Within 3 working days of a confirmed case begin follow-up investigation.
Within 5 working days of notification enter confirmed cases on NCIMS.
The response to a notification will normally be carried out in collaboration with the case's health carers. But regardless of who does the follow-up, PHU staff should ensure that action has been taken to:
Refer to Therapeutic Guidelines: Antibiotic
The case or relevant care-giver should be informed about the nature of the infection and the mode of transmission. To avoid future infection cases should be advised to avoid urine or tissues of infected animals and avoid swimming in potentially contaminated water or walking barefoot in mud or moist soil that may have been contaminated with animal urine.
If direct or indirect contact with urine or infected animal tissues is anticipated, skin abrasions should be covered with an occlusive dressing and gloves and other protective clothing should be worn.
A history of possible exposures should be sought. Attempt to identify the source of infection, such as exposure to urine or tissues of infected animals or contaminated drinking or recreational water.
It is important to determine:
Nil. Use standard precautions in a clinical environment.
If the case has occupational risk factors such as working in an abattoir, discuss with WorkCover and the Department of Primary Industries if appropriate.
Contacts are those who may have been exposed to the same source as the case. Action to detect cases among defined contacts should be considered.