Magazine article Geographical

Weil's Disease: Medical Advice from Jason Gibbs, Head Pharmacist at Nomad Travel Stores and Health Clinics

Magazine article Geographical

Weil's Disease: Medical Advice from Jason Gibbs, Head Pharmacist at Nomad Travel Stores and Health Clinics

Article excerpt

Officially known as leptospirosis, Weil's disease has several colloquial names, including swamp fever, caver's flu, swineherd's disease or sewerman's flu, because of its symptoms and the many ways in which the disease can be caught.

Leptospirosis is caused by a bacterium that lives in fresh water, and is most commonly spread in the urine of infected rats. The bacteria can enter the human body in a number of ways, such as through cuts or mucous membranes, but the most likely way of contracting the disease is by ingesting infected water.

Distribution: Rats across the globe are potential carriers.

Symptoms: Not all individuals exposed to the bacterium will become ill, but those that do generally start to feel unwell within four to ten days, with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, aches, pains, loss of appetite and nausea. This may last for about a week and then you may start to feel better. Later symptoms are much more severe, and may include anaemia, easily bruised skin, nosebleeds and jaundice.

Treatment: Once a diagnosis has been made--and this may not be easy as most of the early signs are so generic--treatment at an early stage of the disease with simple antibiotics is very effective. …

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