The word seems to originate from a complicated crossword puzzle: We are looking for the generic term for an animal disease that can be transmitted to humans. The correct answer is anthropozoonosis.
Leptospirosis, a disease caused by helical bacteria called spirochetes, also belongs to this type of disease. There are over 250 different variants of the pathogen Leptospira interrogans, which, however, can only be distinguished by antigen-antibody reactions in the serum (serovar type). The other family of spirochetes includes, among others, the pathogens of syphilis.
Warm and humid
The disease is particularly prevalent after natural disasters in tropical countries, such as recent flooding in Indonesia, as the pathogens are at home in rats and mice and are excreted in their faeces and urine. In warm and humid environments such as mud, puddles or brackish water, the spirochaetes can survive well for a long time.
They penetrate the body via minute injuries in the skin and mucous membranes. People can then get infected with leptospirosis while swimming, camping or boating. But dog owners in this country, the disease is known: as a threat to the best friend of the people from the puddle, because in our temperate latitudes leptospirosis occurs frequently in the spring and summer.
The pathogens are extremely cold-sensitive and can not survive outdoors in winter. Leptospirosis can be common in certain occupational groups such as sewer workers, farmers or veterinarians. In Germany, a total of 37 human cases were reported in 2003; newer figures are currently not available.