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Weil's disease

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Severe leptospirosis caused by infection of any of several serotypes of Leptospira such as Leptospira icterohaemorrhagica, Leptospira interrogans, Leptospirosis pomina, Leptospirosis canicola, or Leptospirosa automnalis. Prevalent in male, teen-age, and young to middle-age adults. It is transmitted to man by animals, including rodents (rat urine and faeces), skunks, foxes, cattle, dogs. The disease is characterized by jaundice, fever, oliguria, headache, myalgia, haemorrhagic tendencies with purpura or petechiae, and enlargement of liver and spleen. The illness lasts from 4 to 9 days. The course is biphasic, beginning with septicaemia, then organ damage.

While in Heidelberg Adolf Weil described the disease which he had observed two times in four patients in 1870. The symptoms were similar at all four patients and were very unique. Disease came sudden with fever, high temperature, tumor of spleen and icterus. The aetiologic agent was first isolated in 1915 by Inada and Ido. They isolated Lepto from mine workers and named it Spirochaeta icterohaemorrhagiae.

The term Weil's disease or syndrome applies to the severe form of leptospirosis. In the French literature infectious icterus is called Mathieu’s disease.


  • L. T. J. Landouzy:
    Typhus hépatique.
    Gazette des hôpitaux, Paris, 1883, 56: 913-914.
  • A. Weil:
    Über eine eigenthümliche, mit Milztumor, Icterus und Nephritis einhergehende, acute Infektionskrankheit.
    Deutsches Archiv für klinische Medicin, Leipzig, 1886, 39: 209-232.
  • A. Mathieu:
    Typhus hépatique benin; rechute, guérison.
    Revue médicale, Paris, 1886, 6: 833-639.
  • N. Vasiliev:
    Infektsionnaia zheltukha.
    Infektsionnaia zheltukha. Ezhened. Klin. Gaz., St. Petersburg, 1888, 22-23:429.
    Infektsionnaia zheltukha. Ezhened. Klin. Gaz., St. Petersburg, 1888, 25-26:521

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