The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that people who enjoy outdoor water activities – including freshwater kayaking, rafting or swimming – may be at risk for leptospirosis.
Leptospirosis is a disease caused by bacteria that is carried in the urine of infected animals. Since the bacteria lives in fresh water or soil, accidentally swallowing water or having an open cut can easily spread the disease. It can enter the body through the eyes or nose. So, if possible, avoid underwater exploration unless wearing protective gear.
Symptoms of leptospirosis may develop anywhere from two to 26 days (on average, ten days) after being exposed to a contaminated source. Early treatment of leptospirosis is usually successful and the outlook for recovery from mild cases is good.
Many cases result in mild, flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all. When symptoms occur, they can include the following:
- Stomach pain
Without treatment, leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress and even death. Antibiotics – such as penicillin – are used to treat the infection.
Not only can leptospirosis affect humans, but your pet can also be infected. For many years, it was rare to see it manifest in pets, but more and more cases are being reported. Mice can also be infected, so it is important to seal up those holes where rodents can enter. According to the CDC, mice can squeeze through a hole the size of nickel. Keep all entry points well sealed to prevent them from entering your home.
Mice can be attracted to crumbs and clutter, so make sure floors are cleaned of food and clean up the clutter of clothes, opened boxes and paper that make a great nesting place for mice. Peanut butter traps are better than cheese since mice cannot remove the substance.
The development of antibiotics was a superb tool for fighting bacterial infections, but more and more strains of bacteria are becoming antibiotic-resistant. Avoiding infections by maintaining a healthy immune system is essential in fighting even more common infections – such as ear infections, urinary tract infections or even skin conditions.