Meet the Bacteria that Will Cause the Next Pandemic

It could be the beginning of a new global pandemic. Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease spread from animals to humans through water contaminated by infected urine. In severe cases, it can lead to liver failure, kidney failure, meningitis and eventually death. While it's been contained historically through screening and antibiotics, medical researchers in Peru recently stumbled across a new species of Lepto so genetically mutated that current tests for the disease don't detect it.

Millions of humans are infected with Leptospirosis every year, and the new strain could be spreading without detection. If new strains are transmitted beyond the relatively isolated jungle area where they were found, a catastrophic global pandemic could result.

There is no vaccine for humans, and treatment usually requires multiple antibiotics. Joseph Vinetz, M.D. was studying Leptospirosis in the Amazon region of Peru on behalf of the UC San Diego Division of Infectious Diseases when he discovered several humans and rats carrying the new strain. Dr. Vinetz fears that Leptospira licerasiae may have infected hundreds of humans in the remote region. Photo by: CDC.

New Species Of Infectious Disease Found In Amazon. [Science Daily]