What is leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is a disease caused by leptospires. This is a generic term for several syndromes caused by different bacteria of the leptospira family. Well-known syndromes are Weil’s disease, Mud fever and milk fever. The disease leptospirosis is characterised by flu-like symptoms. Symptoms may include sudden (severe) headache, fever, muscle and joint pain, hypersensitivity to light, nausea and vomiting. In severe cases, it can lead to disruption of kidney and liver functions or meningitis (inflammation of the brain). Weil’s disease can be fatal if treatment is not started in time.
How do you get leptospirosis?
There are a number of varieties of leptospira bacteria, each with its own host. The best-known hosts are mice and rats, but cattle can also carry leptospires. The leptospires enter the environment through urine. You can get infected by splashing cattle urine in the milking barn, consuming raw milk or swimming in outdoor water where rats live. The bacteria thrive in lukewarm, stagnant or slow-flowing water. Leptospirosis occurs worldwide. In the Netherlands, infections are most common in summer through swimming in contaminated outdoor water. Travellers can contract leptospirosis during holidays in the (sub)tropics.
What can you do to prevent Leptospirosis?
Surface water contaminated by rat urine is the main risk factor for humans. Therefore, avoid swimming in lukewarm, stagnant water. Also avoid consuming raw milk. Rat catchers and agricultural workers working around the banks of canals should take proper hygiene measures and wear protective clothing. You can also get vaccinated against leptospirosis. The vaccine registered in the Netherlands is called Spirolept.
What protection does the Leptospirosis vaccination offer?
Vaccination against leptospirosis consists of a series of two Spirolept shots at 2-week intervals. Followed by a first booster after 4-6 months and then, if necessary, a booster dose every 2 years.
How much will a Leptospirosis vaccination cost?
The cost of a leptospirosis vaccination is in some cases covered by your health insurance. Check with your health insurance company whether the vaccination is (partially) covered. For more information on costs, please visit our prices page.