Leptospirosis Symptoms: What to Know About This Bacterial Infection
Published | 6 min read
Leptospirosis symptoms may turn serious if they're not detected and treated in time. Here’s how traditional and Western medicine treat the condition.
Did you know Malaysia is endemic to leptospirosis, and thousands of cases are reported annually in the country? It’s a zoonotic disease or a disease that has transferred from animals to humans. Leptospirosis symptoms include fever, muscle pain, and headaches, which can easily be mistaken for the flu or dengue fever.
Severe symptoms include jaundice (yellow skin and eyes) as well as red eyes and abdominal pain. Most infections are mild and symptomatic. However, a patient may sometimes end up with a disease and multisystem organ failure, which can even lead to death.
Read on to know more about the condition and leptospirosis treatment in Western and traditional medicine.
Leptospirosis Symptoms and Causes
Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria called Leptospira, which is present in rat urine. Humans are infected through direct contact with rat urine or indirect contact with water or soil contaminated with urine from infected animals. The bacteria enter the body by penetrating through mucus membranes or skin with abrasions and travel in the body through blood.
As Real Health Medical Senior Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) physician Brandon Yew explains,
Leptospirosis symptoms usually start suddenly with a fever, severe headache, muscle pain, nausea, and chills. Laboratory tests performed on a patient’s blood sample will confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment of Leptospirosis
Western medicine treatment of leptospirosis involves using antibiotics to get rid of the bacteria.
Physician Yew adds that TCM can help provide effective symptomatic relief during the acute infection stage and post-infection recovery phase. This is through herbal medication, acupuncture, cupping, scraping
A doctor may prescribe oral antibiotic therapy with penicillin or doxycycline for mild cases. Depending on the severity of the condition, a patient may be admitted and given antibiotics through the intravenous route.
Physician Brandon recommends the following TCM herbal formulas for acute infections:
- Sheng Jiang San (升降散): Dispels Wind, Fire toxins, phlegm, Stagnated Qi and blood clots to relieve fever, headaches,
red eyesand rash
- Yin Qiao San (银翘散): Dispels Wind and Fire to relieve fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, red eyes, and rash
- Bai Hu Tang (白虎汤): Dispels Fire to relieve high fever and headache
- Qing Ying Tang (清营汤): Dispels Fire and dissipates blood clots, nourishes yin to reduce fever, headache, and rash
- Yin Chen Hao Tang (茵陈蒿汤): Purges Fire and dispels Dampness to relieve fever, headaches, jaundice, red eyes, and rash
The herbs recommended by Physician Yew to help with post-disease recovery are:
- Sheng Mai San (生脉散): Replenishes lost qi and yin energies of the Lungs and Heart
- Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang (香砂六君子汤): Regenerates
Spleenqi and dispels residual Dampness and phlegm
- Qin Jiao Bie Jia San (秦艽鳖甲散): Dispels residual Fire and regenerates lost yin to nourish the Lungs, Heart, and Liver
- Bu Yang Huan Wu Tang (补阳还五汤): Dispels residual blood clots and regenerates qi of the Lungs, Spleen, and Heart
- Ba Zhen Tang (八珍汤): Replenishes lost qi and blood of the Lungs, Heart, Spleen, and Liver
Physician Brandon also suggests acupressure to his patients, which is easily performed at home with the help of a massage stick or even your fingers. These are some acupoints he recommends:
- Chi ze (LU5, 尺泽): dispels Wind, Fire, and Dampness to relieve fever, headache, and rash; revitalises the Lungs.
- Qu chi (LI11, 曲池): Dispels Wind,
Fire, and Dampnessto relieve fever, headache, chills, body aches, red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and rash.
- He gu (LI4, 合谷): Dispels Wind, Fire, Dampness, and blood clots to relieve fever, headache, chills, body aches, red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and rash.
- Wai guan (SJ5, 外关): Dispels Wind and Fire to relieve fever, headache, chills, body aches, and red eyes.
- Nei guan (PC6, 內关): Dissipates Fire and blood clots to relieve fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and rash; revitalises the Heart.
- Jing men (GB25, 京门): Dispels Dampness, phlegm, and Stagnated Qi to relieve jaundice, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea.
- Zhong wan (RN12, 中脘): Dispels Dampness, phlegm, and Stagnated Qi to relieve vomiting, jaundice, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea; strengthens the stomach and Spleen.
Physician Yew recommends
Leptospirosis symptoms can rapidly worsen if not treated in time. So, if you suspect that you have the condition,
- Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology. 2014. Leptospirosis in Humans. [online] Available at: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-662-45059-8_5 [Accessed on 21 September 2022]
- Acta Tropica. 2020. Leptospirosis: Increasing importance in developing countries. [online] Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0001706X19303705, [Accessed on 21 September 2022]
- Scielo Brazil. 2018. Pathology and pathogenesis of human leptospirosis: A commented review. [online] Available at: https://www.scielo.br/j/rimtsp/a/MhPBFRmcXR6RsCrxM5HjyPJ/?format=html&lang=en, [Accessed on 21 September 2022]
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