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.