What are the global incidence rates and environmental associations of leptospirosis?

Updated: Jul 08, 2021
  • Author: Sandra G Gompf, MD, FACP, FIDSA; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Leptospirosis is a ubiquitous disease found throughout the world. Specific serovars vary with locality. The incidence varies from sporadic in temperate zones to endemic in a few tropical countries. Up to 80% of individuals in tropical areas are estimated to have positive seroconversion rates, indicating either past or present infection. Although leptospirosis is generally associated with tropical countries and heavy rainfall, most cases actually occur in temperate climates, probably because of underreporting in some countries.

High-risk areas include the Caribbean islands, Central and South America, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific islands. Frequently, the disease gains public attention when outbreaks occur in association with natural disasters, such as flooding in Nicaragua in 1995 [11] or among foreign travelers, as with extreme athletes competing in tropical rainforests.

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