Leptospirosis is caused by a bacterium, so the primary leptospirosis treatment involves a course of oral antibiotics. Patients who are suffering from a serious form of the disease might also require injections of antibiotics. Complications might result in the patient having to undergo kidney dialysis or need medical assistance such as mechanical breathing support.
Bacteria called Leptospira cause leptospirosis. The dangerous form of the disease is also known as Weil's disease in some countries. Mild cases of leptospirosis resemble a flu-like illness, and people who are infected suffer symptoms such as fever, aching muscles and eye infection. Severe leptospirosis begins with similar symptoms but can worsen to the point where the organs of the body are damaged and the kidneys can stop working.
People who have a mild case of the disease might be prescribed a course of antibiotics to be taken by mouth for about a week. Doxycycline is a commonly prescribed leptospirosis treatment. Possible side effects from this medication include headache or a runny nose, as well as diarrhea or indigestion.
Another possible antibiotic is erythromycin, which might cause gastrointestinal side effects such as vomiting or diarrhea. Penicillin, ampicillin or ceftriaxone also are options. The entire course of antibiotics should be taken, even if the patient feels better during the antibiotic regimen. This is to ensure that all of the bacteria present are killed, because a low concentration of the bacteria can grow back again and cause further disease. Aches and pains caused by the disease can be alleviated through the use of over-the-counter painkillers.
If the disease is serious, the affected person requires hospitalization. Hospital staff members generally administer antibiotics to the patient but through injections rather than as tablets. If the patient has organ damage from the infection, the hospital staff can place him or her on a ventilator to help with breathing. If the kidneys have shut down, then dialysis, which involves removing the waste products from blood and mimics the function of healthy kidneys, might be necessary. Intravenous fluids that contain essential nutrients can also be administered to the patient as part of the leptospirosis treatment.
Prophylactic leptospirosis treatment with amoxicillin or doxycycline might help prevent infection of people who are traveling abroad in tropical areas that have a high risk of infection. The risk can also be reduced by avoiding stagnant water and not exposing cuts or the mucus membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth to water or soil that might be contaminated. Avoidance of animals and animal urine and feces is also helpful.