Leptospirosis: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Leptospirosis is an infection caused by bacteria. People usually get it by drinking or swimming or wading in fresh water that has the bacteria in it. The most common source of the bacteria is urine from infected animals. Leptospirosis can cause a high fever, a bad headache, a cough, chills, and muscle aches. You also may have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and a rash. If not treated, you may develop other symptoms, such as skin bruises and eye problems.

Antibiotics can cure the infection. It is important to get treatment, because this disease can cause organ damage. With antibiotics and care at home, you should get better in a few days or weeks.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It’s also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your antibiotics as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve), to relieve fever and aches. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Get plenty of rest to help your body heal.
  • If you have a rash, try not to scratch it. Put cold, wet cloths on the rash to reduce itching.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking can make your symptoms worse. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have severe trouble breathing.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have a fever with a stiff neck or severe headache.
  • You are sensitive to light or feel very sleepy or confused.
  • You have signs of needing more fluids. You have sunken eyes and a dry mouth, and you pass only a little dark urine.
  • You cannot keep down fluids or medicine.
  • You have eye pain or drainage.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You have a deep cough.
  • You are too tired to eat or drink.
  • You have a new symptom, such as a sore throat, earache, or rash.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter F720 in the search box to learn more about "Leptospirosis: Care Instructions".

Current as of: March 3, 2017

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Leslie Tengelsen, PhD, DVM -