There has been concern in the community about Leptospirosis, Pet Doctor has seen a couple cases already and we feel it merits more information be available about this disease. Firstly, the clinical symptoms can include lethargy (low energy), loss of appetite, red eyes, vomiting, diarrhea, increased urination. In the most severe cases Leptospirosis can result in liver and kidney failure, leading to death.
The biggest risk factor is contact with wildlife or contaminated soil where these animals reside. Mostly you see this disease coming out of the Midwest and Northeast United States, cattle are a likely carrier. Their feces get mixed in water sources and contaminates other wildlife. It is not something that is common in the southwest and the uptick in reported cases is leaving everyone guessing at this point. Dogs that go to dog parks, boarding facilities, or hikes around water are at the highest risk and account for the cases we have seen thus far.
Leptospirosis is a disease caused by the bacteria Leptospira. The disease is one of the most common diseases transmitted between human and animals. It is a common cause of acute injury in people and can be transmitted to people through direct or indirect contact with effluent from the animal. Leptospirosis is highly contagious and should not be taken lightly. If you think your animal may have the disease you should bring it in immediately. You should also be on guard about your own health. Our hospital director, Dr. Harrison Nelson says, “To put it in perspective I hadn’t seen a case in 30 years and now our clinic has seen 2 in the past 3 months.” The difficult thing that we have had to keep in mind is that the Leptospirosis vaccine is highly reactive. This, compounded with the fact that leptospirosis just isn’t that common in this area could mean we are seeing what happens when our animals aren’t vaccinated for all the different diseases active in the world. It is a bit like a game of whack-a-mole. We try and protect them as best we can but it is very difficult to gauge what disease is going to be making an appearance and when. Right now, the most common course of treatment once an animal tests positive for the disease is antibiotic therapy. The goal is to eliminate the Leptospira bacteria, while maintaining kidney function. This will help prevent disease prevention and keep the bacteria from contaminating the surrounding environment.
Prevention is key in making sure our pets are safe. Talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating your dog for the disease as well as determining if your dog is at high risk for infection. You must reduce your dog’s exposure to urine and urine contaminated soil, water or grass. Limit or eliminate contact with soil or water that could be contaminated like ponds, rivers, or dog parks. You must also be careful to limit the contact your pet has with wildlife, rodents, or other dogs that may be infected.