Travel-related leptospirosis in the Netherlands 2009-2016: An epidemiological report and case series

Travel Med Infect Dis. 2018 Jul-Aug;24:44-50. doi: 10.1016/j.tmaid.2018.05.002. Epub 2018 May 16.


Background: Leptospirosis is a potentially fatal zoonotic disease that is prevalent in travellers. Here, we describe epidemiological and diagnostic characteristics of all returning travellers diagnosed with leptospirosis in the Netherlands between 2009 and 2016. Furthermore, we present a detailed clinical case series of all travellers with leptospirosis who presented at the Academic Medical Center (AMC) in the same period.

Method: We extracted data from the records of the Dutch Leptospirosis Reference Center (NRL) of all cases of leptospirosis in travellers in the Netherlands from 2009 to 2016. Patients who presented at the AMC were identified and clinical data were extracted from the hospital records.

Results: 224 cases of travel-related leptospirosis were included. An increase of cases was observed from 2014 onwards. The majority of cases were male (78.1%), and had travelled to South-East Asia (62.1%). Of 41 AMC cases, 53.7% were hospitalised, but most patients had a relatively mild disease course, with no fatalities. A longer delay in diagnosis and treatment initiation existed in hospitalised compared to non-hospitalised patients, suggesting a benefit of early recognition and treatment.

Conclusions: Leptospirosis was increasingly observed in returning travellers in the Netherlands, and is a diagnosis that should be considered in any returning febrile traveller.

Keywords: Epidemiology; Leptospirosis; Netherlands; Travellers; case series.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Asia, Southeastern / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Communicable Diseases, Imported / diagnosis
  • Communicable Diseases, Imported / epidemiology
  • Communicable Diseases, Imported / microbiology
  • Female
  • Fever
  • Humans
  • Leptospirosis / diagnosis*
  • Leptospirosis / drug therapy
  • Leptospirosis / epidemiology*
  • Leptospirosis / microbiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Travel*
  • Travel-Related Illness*
  • Young Adult
  • Zoonoses / diagnosis*
  • Zoonoses / drug therapy
  • Zoonoses / epidemiology*
  • Zoonoses / microbiology