Leptospira Interrogans

Leptospira interrogans is a specific species of Leptospira bacteria. Certain versions of this species, known as serovars, are pathogenic, while others are harmless. First discovered in 1907, the pathogenic serovars, Canicola and Icterohaemorrhagiae, are consistently misdiagnosed because of the ambiguous symptoms that crop up after infection. The non-pathogenic serovars typically pass through humans with no issue whatsoever.

All members of this species are Gram-negative bacteria, meaning they can not be stained using the Gram staining procedure because they can not hold on to the dye when washed in the decolorizing solution. This attribute has to do with the bacterium’s lipopolysaccharide (LPS) layer. LPS causes a human immune system response that typically manifests itself in immune system activation and cytokine production. This may lead to inflammation.

Being a spirochaete, Leptospira interrogans uses periplasmic flagellum to propel itself. It reproduces via asexual transverse binary fission. Leptospira interrogans is a chemoheterotroph, which means that it cannot fix carbon to form its own organic compounds. It must obtain its energy from inorganic oxidation of natural processes.

It is typically found in an alkaline environment, and it can be found in urine. Thanks to this attribute, humans typically come into contact with this bacterium though water that has been contaminated with infected urine. In fact, leptospirosis is globally recognized as the most common disease that animals transfer to humans. It has been found that many infections are a result of household pets drinking from infected puddles, particularly in areas with a pervasive population of rats. Dogs are the most common household pet to transmit the bacteria to humans. Leptospira interrogans can live up to three months in this environment, greatly increasing the chance of infection.

Leptospirosis has two major phases, a flu-like stage and a more severe second stage. There is a brief period between the phases that is markedly asymptomatic. The first phase presents with chills, headaches, and fever, whereas the second stage presents with meningitis, renal failure and liver damage. Leptospirosis has played its part in almost every large scale conflict through history. Icterohaemorrhagiae was responsible for a pre- World War II outbreak in Japan. The most recent deaths in the industrialized world have been attributed to people traveling to exotic locales and not taking proper precautions against infection. There are many treatments for infection, but the best idea is to take a preventative stance, as the options are highly effective and the risk is low.