Clin Microbiol Infect 2010; 16: 1207–1212
Pulmonary involvement in leptospirosis is emerging as a common complication of severe leptospirosis. A prospective randomized controlled trial of desmopressin or high-dose (pulse) dexamethasone as adjunctive therapy in 68 patients with pulmonary involvement associated with severe leptospirosis was conducted between July 2003 and October 2006 at five hospitals in Thailand. There were 23 patients in the desmopressin group, 22 in the pulse dexamethasone group, and 23 in a control group who received standard critical care alone. The diagnosis of leptospirosis was confirmed in 52 patients (77%). There were 15 deaths (22%), of which eight patients received desmopressin, four patients received pulse dexamethasone, and three patients received critical care alone (p 0.19). Eight patients with confirmed leptospirosis died (five patients in the desmopressin group, one in the pulse dexamethasone group and two in the control group). The mortality was not significantly different in the desmopressin group or pulse dexamethasone group compared to the control group in both intention-to-treat patients, and in patients with confirmed leptospirosis. There were no serious events associated with desmopressin treatment, although pulse dexamethasone treatment was associated with a significant increase in nosocomial infection. The results of logistic regression analysis revealed that serum bilirubin level was the only significant risk factor associated with mortality (OR 0.759, 95% CI 0.598–0.965, p 0.024). The results obtained in the present study do not support the use of either pulse dexamethasone or desmopressin as adjunct therapy for pulmonary involvement associated with severe leptospirosis.