Many Oregon residents may not be familiar with leptospirosis, a zoonotic disease that is caused by a bacteria that can found in rat urine. However, those who live in urban areas or areas that have high numbers of rats and other carriers should be aware that the disease causes almost 60,000 deaths every year worldwide and has a 10 percent fatality rate.
The symptoms for leptospirosis can vary widely, from no symptoms at all to those associated with other diseases. Incubation can last between two to 29 days with a sudden onset of symptoms that can include jaundice and anemia. After a time, the person may feel better. If the disease is not diagnosed and treated at this point, the person may experience another onset of symptoms that are much more severe. They may include liver failure, meningitis or even pulmonary hemorrhage.
Although tropical countries account for almost 75 percent of all cases, the United States is not immune to the zoonotic disease. In fact, in January 2013, cases of illness among children who were living in the country’s urban areas were on the rise. Part of the problem is that there is no adequate diagnostic test as the symptoms are similar to those caused by malaria and enteric fever. A misdiagnosis could result in serious complications.
When the delayed treatment of a disease causes the condition to worsen, an affected patient may want to meet with a medical malpractice attorney in order to determine if any recourse is available. After a review of the patient’s hospital records and opinions of medical experts, the attorney may determine that there was a failure to exhibit the requisite standard of care on the part of a health care practitioner or facility. This could lead to a lawsuit being filed that would seek compensation from the responsible parties for the damages that the patient has incurred.