Leptospirosis – What Is It?

Leptospirosis or Lepto, is a bacterial disease that affects both humans and animals.  Without treatment, it can lead to kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, respiratory distress or even death.  Lepto is what we call a zoonotic disease.  It is one that can pass from pets to humans.

How is it spread?

The bacteria that cause Lepto are spread through the urine of infected animals.  The urine gets into the water or soil and can survive there from weeks to months.  Animals that are infected may continue to excrete the bacteria into the environment continuously for a few months to several years.  Humans are able to contract this through the urine or other body fluids of infected animals, or by coming in contact with water, soil, or food contaminated with urine.  The bacteria can enter through the skin or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth), especially if there is a break in the skin.

vile of lepto test

Who are the carriers of Lepto?

Cattle, pigs, horses, dogs, rodents, and wild animals.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, refusal to eat, severe weakness, depression, stiffness, severe muscle pain, and the inability to have puppies.  The younger the animals are the more severely they are affected.

The time between exposure and development of the disease is usually 5-14 days, but it can be as short as a few days or as long as 30 days or more.

Prevention in Pets

Keep rodents, mice, or other animal pests under control. 

VACCINATE, VACCINATE, VACCINATE!  Even though there are several strains of the Lepto disease, and vaccinations are not 100% protection, they are your first line of defense.  A vaccinated pet has a better chance of survival than an unvaccinated one.

Treatment for Pets

Lepto is treatable with antibiotics.  If diagnosed and treated early your pet may recover more rapidly and any organ damage may not be as severe.  Other treatment methods may include dialysis and hydration therapy.  Dialysis, of course, would be for the more severe case.

Lastly, Leptospirosis in dogs is an extremely severe disease and can be very difficult to treat and can have a high level of suffering plus a high probability of death. That is why vaccinating, along with early diagnosis, is so very important for your cherished family member.

For more information, please visit www.leptospirosis.org, or call us at (717) 500-2072