Home Print this page Email this page
Users Online: 2501
Home About us Editorial board Search Ahead of print Current issue Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login 

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 181-184

Coexisting anicteric leptospirosis and pulmonary tuberculosis in a farmer

1 Department of Internal Medicine, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Kalapet, India
2 Department of General Medicine, Indira Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, Kadirkamam, Pondicherry, India

Date of Web Publication16-Jul-2015

Correspondence Address:
Stalin Viswanathan
Department of General Medicine, Indira Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, Kadirkamam, Pondicherry - 605 009
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2278-344X.160896

Rights and Permissions

Leptospirosis and tuberculosis (TB) are widely prevalent in the tropics, with the former presenting acutely ranging from a flu-like illness to severe hepatorenal dysfunction (Weil's disease) and hemorrhage. TB is a smoldering illness, which rarely presents acutely as community-acquired pneumonia or acute lung injury. We present a 35-year-old farmer who had acute onset breathlessness and oliguria following a short febrile illness, which required mechanical ventilation and renal replacement therapy. His diagnostic workup revealed concomitant pulmonary TB and anicteric leptospirosis which improved with appropriate antibiotics and supportive care.

Keywords: Acute tuberculosis, anicteric leptospirosis, renal failure

How to cite this article:
Iqbal N, Viswanathan S. Coexisting anicteric leptospirosis and pulmonary tuberculosis in a farmer. Int J Health Allied Sci 2015;4:181-4

How to cite this URL:
Iqbal N, Viswanathan S. Coexisting anicteric leptospirosis and pulmonary tuberculosis in a farmer. Int J Health Allied Sci [serial online] 2015 [cited 2023 Dec 8];4:181-4. Available from: https://www.ijhas.in/text.asp?2015/4/3/181/160896

  Introduction Top

Leptospirosis is the most prevalent zoonosis in the world. [1] Tuberculosis (TB) causes 1.8 million deaths worldwide every year. [2] Leptospirosis is a significant cause of acute renal failure (ARF) in developing countries. [3] About 44-67% of patients with leptospirosis can have a renal failure that is generally associated with Weil's disease (severe leptospirosis). [4] TB can occasionally present acutely in the form of meningitis, miliary TB or community acquired pneumonia (CAP) associated with respiratory failure or with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). [2],[5] We report a young farmer who presented during the rainy season with coexistent TB and leptospirosis-related anicteric ARF and acute respiratory distress.

  Case report Top

This 35-year-old male was referred from another hospital with oliguria and acute onset breathlessness of 1-day's duration. He had presented to the referring hospital with 1-week's symptoms of high-grade fever, headache, dysuria, myalgia, and bilateral flank pain. He had tachypnea (40/min), tachycardia (120 bpm), normotension (110/70 mmg) and bilateral chest crackles with desaturation in room air (SpO 2 85%). With a provisional diagnosis of acute pyelonephritis and ARF and probable acute lung injury, he was administered piperacillin-tazobactam pending results. Investigations revealed deranged renal parameters with hypokalemia [Table 1], normal liver function tests (LFT), neutrophilic leukocytosis, bilateral upper lobe infiltrates on chest radiograph [Figure 1]a-c, and PaO 2 /FiO 2 of 212.5 (85/0.4). Urinalysis revealed pyuria with no casts or hematuria. Next day, his respiratory failure worsened with the onset of hypotension and metabolic acidosis, following which he was intubated, mechanically ventilated and infused dopamine and soda bicarbonate; continuous veno-venous hemodialysis was initiated. His endotracheal aspirate was positive for acid-fast bacilli (AFB) and he was commenced on modified doses of antituberculous therapy on the 3 rd day. The patient was weaned to a T-piece on day 4. On the same day, his serologies revealed positive Leptospira IgM (PanBio) and negative results for scrub typhus, dengue and systemic lupus. With a modified Faine score of 30, ceftriaxone 2 g and doxycycline 100 mg BD (for other rickettsioses, endemic in our area) were immediately initiated. He developed pericarditis and worsening breathlessness, but stabilized with another sitting of hemodialysis and one unit of RBC transfusion. He was extubated on 5 th day. Computed tomography [Figure 1]d-f on the 6 th day showed bilateral upper lobe cavities and asymmetrical bilateral pleural effusion. Pleural fluid was exudative (protein 4.5 g/dL) with a predominance of lymphocytes (total count 410; lymphocytes 68%) and ADA of 38 U/L. Melioidosis was also considered in view of bilateral cavities, pleural effusion, and renal failure, but Burkholderia was not isolated. Esophagogastroscopy done on 9 th day for malena showed fundal and corporal gastritis. His urinary AFB was negative and he was unwilling for a renal biopsy. Between 5 th and 14 th days, his creatinine remained elevated [Table 1] but stable, and he was discharged on the 15 th day with antituberculous therapy. He was lost to follow-up thereafter.
Figure 1: (a) Chest X-ray (CXR) from referring hospital-bilateral UZ (L > R) and MZ infiltrates; (b) CXR, day 1 - infiltrates in RUL with two cavities; (c) CXR, day 5 - minimal clearing of both upper-zones; (d-f) NCCT abdomen on day 6 - hepatomegaly, normal renal architecture, bilateral pleural effusion, bilateral upper lobe air-space opacities, and cavities and left-sided air-bronchogram

Click here to view
Table 1: Investigations of patient during hospital stay

Click here to view

  Discussion Top

Activities related to farming, fishing, sewage and veterinary practice are at risk for leptospirosis. [4] Leptospira live in the kidneys of natural hosts and may persist in genital tracts of domestic animals. [1] Transmission is by contact with infected urine or other tissues. [4] Leptospira spread hematogenously after entry into skin/mucosa. [4] Underestimation of disease occurs due to the nonspecific nature of symptoms, unawareness, poor access to reliable, and inexpensive lab facilities. [6] Conjunctival suffusion and calf tenderness are relatively specific findings, [6] neither of which were observed in our patient. Myalgia can be seen in almost all patients, but creatine kinase [Table 1] elevation is observed in <60% patients. [3]

Pulmonary involvement is seen in about 20-70% of leptospirosis, with cough, hemoptysis and ARDS being observed. [6] In our case, acute lung injury was contributed partly due to TB, because lung infiltrates in leptospirosis are predominantly in the lower zones and are nonsegmental and pleural effusions are rare. [7] Contributions to respiratory distress may have also been due to leptospirosis-related ALI, metabolic acidosis and uremic pericarditis. Respiratory distress improved with mechanical ventilation and antibiotics. Depending on the case series, the incidence of tuberculous CAP can be seen up to 60% of microbiologically confirmed pneumonias. [2] Reactivation, primary or postprimary TB, or atelectasis due to enlarged nodes can cause acute presentation of TB. [2] Pleural effusion, immunocompromised states, normal WBC counts, contact with other patients may be some clues to TB masquerading as CAP. [2] It is possible that our patient had a reactivation of latent TB due to severe leptospirosis and renal failure. A large population-based study from Taiwan showed that acute kidney injury (AKI) requiring dialysis increases the risk of acquiring TB. [8]

Both mild and severe leptospirosis lead to renal dysfunction. [9] Vasodilation related hypotension, and hypovolemia related to diarrhea, vomiting and fever cause renal injury. [3] Hypotension generally precedes renal and pulmonary complications. [10] All renal components including the tubules, interstitium, glomeruli and vascular structures can be affected. [10] Tubulointerstitial inflammation is mainly responsible for the renal failure. [4] Renal failure is generally nonoliguric, unlike in our patient. Uremia and oligoanuria are seen during the 2 nd week of illness. [4] Acute interstitial nephritis is detected earlier than acute tubular necrosis. [3] Hypokalemia [Table 1] is the typical finding in leptospiral ARF. [3]

In a study from Turkey, 92% of cases of leptospirosis were anicteric and renal involvement was in the form of leukocyturia, hematuria or proteinuria singly or in combination. [11] Hurst et al. showed that patients with leptospiral renal failure requiring dialysis had no associated jaundice or hemorrhage. [12] In India, flooding during monsoons can lead to leptospirosis, which is mostly anicteric. [3] Hence, the notion that renal disease is generally seen in severe leptospirosis (Weil's disease) needs to be dispensed when patients have associated thrombocytopenia or travel to endemic area. Isolated thrombocytopenia (not in our case) occurs commonly and often correlates with renal failure. [13]

Mimics of leptospirosis include Hantavirus infection, rickettsioses, and malaria. [14] Infectious causes of renal failure include the hepatitis viruses B and C, HIV, Hantavirus, legionella, listeria, and rickettsia. [14] Acute reno-pulmonary manifestations can be due to infections like rickettsioses, malaria, HIV and inflammatory disorders such as SLE, Wegener's granulomatosis, and sarcoidosis. We did not have facilities to check for Hantavirus, legionella and listeria. Serological testing for hepatitis B and C, HIV was nonreactive. Testing for c-ANCA and angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) were not performed due to a conclusive diagnosis and recovery following antibiotics and supportive care.

  Conclusion Top

Leptospirosis can concurrently exist with other infections. Association of leptospirosis with dengue, Hantavirus, hepatitis E, malaria (both falciparum and vivax), melioidosis and herpes simplex have been reported in the literature. [15],[16] In one report, two viruses (hepatitis E and dengue) have coexisted with leptospirosis. [16] There are seven instances of concomitant scrub typhus and leptospirosis, reported primarily from Taiwan and Thailand due to their endemicity. [17] Our patient had leptospirosis coexisting with TB, which has never been previously reported in medical literature. Health care providers in the tropics need to be on the vigil, to detect common tropical diseases, which may coexist and confuse the clinical picture.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Hartskeerl RA, Collares-Pereira M, Ellis WA. Emergence, control and re-emerging leptospirosis: Dynamics of infection in the changing world. Clin Microbiol Infect 2011;17:494-501.  Back to cited text no. 1
Pinto LM, Shah AC, Shah KD, Udwadia ZF. Pulmonary tuberculosis masquerading as community acquired pneumonia. Respir Med CME 2011;4:138-40.  Back to cited text no. 2
Abdulkader RC, Silva MV. The kidney in leptospirosis. Pediatr Nephrol 2008;23:2111-20.  Back to cited text no. 3
Cetin BD, Harmankaya O, Hasman H, Gunduz A, Oktar M, Seber E. Acute renal failure: A common manifestation of leptospirosis. Ren Fail 2004;26:655-61.  Back to cited text no. 4
Abi-Fadel F, Gupta K. Acute respiratory distress syndrome with miliary tuberculosis: A fatal combination. J Thorac Dis 2013;5:E1-4.  Back to cited text no. 5
Bharti AR, Nally JE, Ricaldi JN, Matthias MA, Diaz MM, Lovett MA, et al. Leptospirosis: A zoonotic disease of global importance. Lancet Infect Dis 2003;3:757-71.  Back to cited text no. 6
Tsang KW, File TM Jr. Respiratory infections unique to Asia. Respirology 2008;13:937-49.  Back to cited text no. 7
Wu VC, Wang CY, Shiao CC, Chang CH, Huang HY, Huang TM, et al. Increased risk of active tuberculosis following acute kidney injury: A nationwide, population-based study. PLoS One 2013;8:e69556.  Back to cited text no. 8
Covic A, Goldsmith DJ, Gusbeth-Tatomir P, Seica A, Covic M. A retrospective 5-year study in Moldova of acute renal failure due to leptospirosis: 58 cases and a review of the literature. Nephrol Dial Transplant 2003;18:1128-34.  Back to cited text no. 9
Visith S, Kearkiat P. Nephropathy in leptospirosis. J Postgrad Med 2005;51:184-8.  Back to cited text no. 10
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Turhan V, Atasoyu EM, Solmazgul E, Evrenkaya R, Cavuslu S. Anicteric leptospirosis and renal involvement. Ren Fail 2005;27:491-2.  Back to cited text no. 11
Hurst FP, Neff RT, Katz AR, Buchholz AE, Sasaki DM, Berg BW, et al. Acute kidney injury requiring hemodialysis in patients with anicteric leptospirosis. Clin Nephrol 2009;72:186-92.  Back to cited text no. 12
Stefos A, Georgiadou SP, Gioti C, Loukopoulos A, Ioannou M, Pournaras S, et al. Leptospirosis and pancytopenia: Two case reports and review of the literature. J Infect 2005;51:e277-80.  Back to cited text no. 13
Sion ML, Hatzitolios AI, Armenaka MC, Toulis EN, Kalampalika D, Mikoudi KD. Acute renal failure caused by leptospirosis and Hantavirus infection in an urban hospital. Eur J Intern Med 2002;13:264-268.  Back to cited text no. 14
Bhattacharya P, Chakraborty A, Ahmed S, Bharati S. Coexistence of leptospirosis with falciparum malaria. Indian J Crit Care Med 2007;11:102-3.  Back to cited text no. 15
  Medknow Journal  
Singh MP, Majumdar M, Sharma A, Chawla Y, Ratho RK. Prolonged jaundice attributed to super infection of hepatitis E virus in a case of resolving leptospirosis. Indian J Med Microbiol 2012;30:103-6.  Back to cited text no. 16
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Wei YF, Chiu CT, Lai YF, Lai CH, Lin HH. Successful treatment of septic shock and respiratory failure due to leptospirosis and scrub typhus coinfection with penicillin, levofloxacin, and activated protein C. J Microbiol Immunol Infect 2012;45:251-4.  Back to cited text no. 17


  [Figure 1]

  [Table 1]

This article has been cited by
1 The diagnosis of leptospirosis complicated by pulmonary tuberculosis complemented by metagenomic next-generation sequencing: A case report
Jichan Shi, Wenjie Wu, Kang Wu, Chaorong Ni, Guiqing He, Shilin Zheng, Fang Cheng, Yaxing Yi, Ruotong Ren, Xiangao Jiang
Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology. 2022; 12
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  In this article
Case report
Article Figures
Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded232    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 1    

Recommend this journal