|Description:||This scanning electron micrograph (SEM) depicts a number of Leptospira sp. bacteria atop a 0.1. µm polycarbonate filter.|
Leptospires are long, thin motile spirochetes that may be free-living or associated with animal hosts and survive well in fresh water, soil, and mud in tropical areas. Organisms are antigenically complex, with over 200 known pathogenic serologic variants. Molecular taxonomic studies at CDC and elsewhere have identified 13 named and 4 unnamed species of pathogenic leptospires. Leptospirosis causes a wide range of symptoms, and some infected persons may have no symptoms at all. Symptoms of leptospirosis include high fever, severe headache, chills, muscle aches, and vomiting, and may include jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or a rash.