Nov 12 2018

Leptospirosis Cases Rise in Wet Weather

It’s been a wet couple of weeks recently, leaving the soil in many areas saturated and muddy. This moisture combined with moderate temperatures create ideal conditions for leptospira bacteria to thrive.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that both humans and pets (particularly dogs) can contract. It is noteworthy that leptospirosis is one of the few diseases that is zoonotic, meaning spreadable from animals to people. Dogs and people can contract the infection through drinking contaminated water or via their skin in contact with contaminated water/soil (particularly if there are small cuts or scrapes on the skin).
Water and soil can become contaminated through the urine of wildlife carriers of leptospirosis – mainly skunks, raccoons, and rodents.
Leptospirosis bacteria infect vital organs, namely the liver, kidneys, spleen, central nervous syndrome, genital tract and eyes. Dogs that have been infected have varying degrees of illness. The most severely affected can die from the illness shortly after infection. More commonly, dogs will experience signs of illness like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, appetite loss, and fever. In some cases there are no signs of illness.
Leptospirosis is usually diagnosed through blood tests that show signs of organ problems (particularly liver and kidney changes) and abnormal blood counts. Specific blood tests for leptospirosis can be ordered when there is suspicion the disease is present.
Leptospirosis is treated using a long course of antibiotics (2-4 weeks), in addition to any needed supportive care.
The best prevention we have for leptospirosis in dogs is vaccination. Leptospirosis vaccination provides immunity for the four most common types (serovars) of leptospirosis bacteria. Though no vaccine is 100% effective, vaccinating your dog will greatly reduce their risk of contracting leptospirosis.
Vaccination is recommended for all dogs that spend time outside, particularly those that tend to drink water outside or walk in wet/muddy areas. Although the vaccine was traditionally recommended mostly for large breed dogs in rural areas, increased cases in smaller breeds and more urban areas has resulted in broader recommendation of the vaccine. Annual re-vaccination is required to maintain effective immunity against leptospirosis.
Contact Dr. Glauser or one of the Bucksburn Veterinary Hospital support staff today if you would like more information about preventing leptospirosis in your pet.

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