Health for humans, animals & plants

Leptospires: Germs in the water

Leptospires are bacteria that mainly occur in moist environments such as mud or freshwater lakes. Rising temperatures and heavy rainfall as consequences of climate change may lead to increased human infections.

Humans can become infected with leptospires through small injuries to the skin and contact with mucous membranes when they come into contact with the urine of infected animals or with water contaminated with urine from infected animals: In water, these bacteria remain capable of reproducing for weeks.

The disease called leptospirosis causes flu-like symptoms in humans, but it can also lead to severe courses and even death. In Austria, leptospirosis is a seasonal disease that occurs more frequently in summer and (early) autumn.

Warm and humid climatic conditions favor the probability and duration of survival of leptospires in the environment. Due to climate change, there is an increase in heavy rainfall and flooding events and rising temperatures. As a consequence, this can lead to increasing infection rates in humans and animals.

Information on leptospires

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