Leptospira Icterohaemorrhagiae

Leptospira Icteroheaemorrhagiae is a spirochete from the specie of Leptospira Interrogans.  It is distributed worldwide like Leptospira canicola. Reservior hosts of this disease are mainly rats. Leptospira Icteroheaemorrhagiae is transmitted through contact with water contaminated with rat urine like in swimming pool, or accidental or occupational immersion with the infected water.   In cases of occupational immersion, farmers, sewer workers, and miners are at greater risk of acquiring the infection.

Like any other species of Leptospira Interrogans, Leptospira Icteroheaemorrhagiae can also cause Leptospirosis which also known as Weil’s disease. Weil’s disease cannot be used interchangeably with other names called to describe Leptospirosis because it is solely used to describe those caused by Leptospira Icteroheaemorrhagiae.

In leptospirosis infection, the spirochete enters the body through an opening or cut in the skin and mucus membranes. After an incubation period of usually 10 days, onset of fever is present once these spirochetes enter the blood stream. After these spirochetes have logged into parenchymous organs such as the liver and kidneys, hemorrhage and tissue necrosis often results to dysfunction of organs which results to jaundice, hemorrhage and nitrogen retention. The second phase of the disease develops when the IgM antibody titer rises. The increase is manifested as aseptic meningitis with symptoms of headache and stiff neck.

Symptoms used to describe leptospirosis are as follows: headache, fever, chills, body malaise, muscle aches, vomiting and conjunctivitis. Meningeal irritation is true in cases of aseptic meningitis which is part of the pathophysiology of the disease. Jaundice and hemorrhage are the specific symptoms found in infections with Leptospira Icteroheaemorrhagiae.  The disease usually lasts for a few days to a maximum of 3 weeks.

Leptospirosis is treated with penicillin and tetracycline. Doxycycline is also used to treat infections and at the same time prevent the disease to those who are exposed to contaminated water with urine of rats.

Nursing Consideration

Nursing care is mainly supportive. The disease is treated as to how and what symptoms are manifested by the patient.  In cases of fever, tepid sponge bath and paracetamol is used. The role of nurses in prevention and control of the disease is education of the public on how the disease is transmitted and how to protect oneself from acquiring the disease. Rodent control at homes should also be observed to prevent the spread of disease. Those who are working in suspected contaminated water, they should use gloves and plastic boots so as the contaminated water will not penetrate the skin and cause the disease.

Daisy Jane Antipuesto RN MN

Currently a Nursing Local Board Examination Reviewer. Subjects handled are Pediatric, Obstetric and Psychiatric Nursing. Previous work experiences include: Clinical instructor/lecturer, clinical coordinator (Level II), caregiver instructor/lecturer, NC2 examination reviewer and staff/clinic nurse. Areas of specialization: Emergency room, Orthopedic Ward and Delivery Room. Also an IELTS passer.

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