Is Leptospirosis lurking in your environment?

Hi there Gentle Care Clients! Thankfully fall is just around the corner and we can start enjoying some crisp autumn days, fall colors and pumpkin spice everything(if that’s your thing). It does seem that outdoor activities have become more popular this year and I suspect people, as well as their pets, will spend a good bit of time outdoors this fall. With that in mind, I want to talk to you about Leptospirosis.

Leptospirosis is a disease that is caused by infection with Leptospira bacteria. Dogs can develop Lepto by coming into contact with infected urine through a wound on the skin or exposure through mucus membranes (eyes and mouth). Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease; meaning it can spread from animals to humans. The Leptospira bacteria is found throughout the world in soil and water. Our dog’s risk factors in the U.S. is drinking from rivers, lakes or streams, hiking or walking in areas where infected wildlife may roam, farm animals and nearby water sources around these types of areas. Human cases in the U.S. are usually contracted from outdoor activities in water. People contracting Lepto from animals is less common but it can happen. Cat are less affected by leptospirosis than dogs.

The symptoms of leptospirosis in dogs are not always the same. Some don’t show any signs of being ill, some can very mild and others can be severe and become very ill or even die. The usual signs are fever, muscle tenderness or fatigue, drinking more, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite. The more severe cases may cause kidney and/or liver failure. That being said, other diseases in pets can cause these same symptoms. That is why we always ask questions to the owner about where they have been lately and what type of environment they live in and of course if they are currently vaccinated for leptospirosis.

We participated in a Lepto study for our area through Zoetis about 4 years ago and had four out of 100 tested dogs test positive for exposure to leptospira bacteria; luckily these pets never became ill from leptrospira. It was eye opening to discover these pets lived near the Finley River and James River.

Many of our current patients at Gentle Care are vaccinated for leptospirosis. But it is not necessary for all pets. We have the vaccine in stock as a stand-alone vaccine or we have it as a combo vaccine with our annual DHPP vaccine (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza).

If you are interested in talking more about this disease and your pet’s specific risk factors based on lifestyle, please call our office 417-725-2386