Summer is in full swing and as such people are enjoying outdoor activities including swimming, rafting and kayaking, but are unaware they are at risk for contracting leptospirosis, according to the CDC. Below learn what it is, how to stay safe and how to prevent it.
What is Leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis – known also as field fever, pretibial fever among other names – is an infection caused by bacteria. These bacteria are carried in the urine of infected animals. When an infected animal urinates in the body of water (e.g. stream, lake or river) or soil, the disease can stay present for weeks up to months after.
How People Contract Leptospirosis
When participating in outdoor activities people come into contact with damp soil and fresh water. For instance, while swimming someone might accidentally swallow some water or have an open cut while outside gardening that can get infected.
The bacteria can enter the body through broken skin, eyes, nose or mouth.
The symptoms can range from none to mild and include:
I serious cases, it can cause life-threatening infections in the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys and liver.
How to Minimize Your Risk
Lower your chances of getting leptospirosis by following the tips below.
Wear proper protective clothing and shoes.
If you have cuts and scrapes, wait for them to heal prior to going into damp soil or fresh water.
Try to avoid ingesting water in lakes and rivers.
Lastly, research areas in which you will be spending time outdoors and be aware of potential risks. The CDC’s Travelers’ Health Yellow Book is a great resource to research vacation destinations beforehand.
That being said, enjoy your summer and time spent outdoors but be safe and if you experience any symptoms after a day in the mud, soil or fresh water, seek medical attention.