How does the incidence for leptospirosis vary among different demographic groups?

Updated: Jul 08, 2021
  • Author: Sandra G Gompf, MD, FACP, FIDSA; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

No evidence suggests that leptospirosis affects persons of various races, ages, or sexes differently. However, because occupational exposure constitutes a major risk for development of disease, a disproportionate number of working-aged males seem to be affected.

On the other hand, the rates may be different because some practitioners are more likely to look for and, hence, diagnose the disease in patients who have obvious risk factors. When population groups other than adult males are actively surveyed, their rates are higher than those previously reported.

In addition, outbreaks have been reported in which more than 40% of patients were younger than 15 years, a reversal of traditional prevalence rates. Potential explanations in such cases include childhood predilections to play with suspected vectors (eg, dogs) or indiscriminate contact with water. Active surveillance measures have detected leptospire antibodies in as many as 30% of children in some urban American populations.


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