Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that you can catch after being exposed to water contaminated with the urine of infected animals. If you wash laundry or bathe in infected water, you are risking infection. If you don't wear shoes around water in tropical areas, you are at risk. As you might imagine, people who don't have running water or a safe source of water for drinking and washing are at a big risk of getting leptospirosis.
What does it do to you? High fever, headache, chills, red eyes, abdominal pain, jaundice, skin hemorrhages, bleeding of the lungs, vomiting, diarrhea, and rash.
Researchers at Cornell are hoping to develop a vaccine. Read about how they identified a key protein in the leptospirosis bacterium.