Lepto what, you ask? I wondered the same thing as I watched an impressive PowerPoint presentation that put the fear of God in me.
This post initially started off as a warning to wash all canned goods before using them. Originally inspired by an email floating around the Internet regarding the dangers of tin cans infected with Leptospirosis (from rat urine), it morphed into something else when I discovered the information was totally bogus. Not unusual for the many emails flooding our inboxes that get forwarded without checking the validity of the information on the various net lore websites. I guess there are far too many people with far too much time on their hands that find it amusing to send mis-information out into the universe. Although it probably is a good idea to wash your tins before opening them, or putting that soda to your mouth, it's not because you could get sick and die from Leptospirosis, as the presentation implies.
Don't get me wrong, Leptospirosisdoes exist! Commonly known as swamp fever, mud fever, sugar cane fever, rice field fever, Stuttgart Disease, and Fort Bragg fever, it's a disease caused by the bacteria Leptospira and can affect both humans and animals. Humans usually become sickened after coming into direct contact with urine from infected animals, or water, plants or soil contaminated with urine. It can be symptomless and mild or severe, and in some cases can lead to death.
Predominately found in warmer climates, it occurs worldwide and is both an occupational and recreational hazard for those who come in contact with contaminated water and soil.
Although farmers, veterinarians, soldiers, sanitation/sewer workers and fishermen are more likely to come in contact with Leptospirosis, all those who love to camp and play in the great outdoors (think whitewater rafting, canoeing etc) are also susceptible.
PREVENTION: If you want to protect yourself, stay away from contaminated water, or wear protective clothing or footwear.