Occupational Safety


This is a contagious bacterial disease of animals and humans due to infection with Leptospira interrogans species. Rats, mice, field moles, hedgehogs, squirrels, gerbils, hamsters, rabbits, dogs, domestic livestock, other mammals, amphibians, and reptiles are among the animals that are considered reservoir hosts.

Leptospires (PDF) are shed in the urine of reservoir animals, which often remain asymptomatic and carry the organism in their renal tubules for years.

The usual mode of transmission occurs through abraded skin or mucous membranes, and is often related to direct contact with urine or tissues of infected animals. Inhalation of infectious droplet aerosols and ingestion of urine-contaminated food or water are also effective modes of transmissions.

Clinical symptoms may be severe, mild or absent, and may cause a wide variety of symptoms including fever, myalgia, headache, chills, icterus and conjunctival suffusion. The disease can usually be treated successfully with antibiotics.

Efforts to prevent this zoonotic disease (PDF) in a laboratory animal facility should focus on effective control of the infection in laboratory-animal populations and use of protective clothing and gloves by personnel.