Leptospirosis and What You Need to Know

As a good pet owner, you never miss your pet’s yearly exam with the vet. You stay up to date with the newest types of flea & tick product, never skip his monthly heartworm preventive, and of course, run a complete blood panel every year. But what about vaccines? Does your dog really need all those shots every year? I mean, your dog never leaves your fenced in yard, and you only let him play with healthy dogs at the park, so surely he can’t be exposed to something as dangerous as leptospirosis…right?

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic bacterial infection that can be potentially life threatening. It most commonly occurs in mice, rats, foxes, raccoons, opossum, deer, dogs, horses, and cattle and is transmitted by direct or indirect contact with an infected host. Direct transmission can occur via bite wounds or by coming in contact with contaminated urine. Indirect transmission occurs when one is exposed to contaminated water, soil, food, or even bedding. Leptospirosis is frequently seen in the spring and early fall when the wet soil conditions and warmer temperatures allow the organism to survive best. However, in some temperate regions, lepto may be diagnosed year-round.

The leptospirosis vaccine, which is typically given yearly, had practically eradicated the disease. However, it has resurfaced in more recent years probably due to different strains of the bacteria, as well as decreased client compliance with standard yearly vaccination protocol.

The following symptoms may occur anywhere from 4-12 days after exposure to the disease:
–          fever
–          stiffness
–          lethargy
–          vomiting and/or diarrhea
–          loss of appetite
–          coughing and/or difficulty breathing
–          in severe cases, jaundice (or yellowing of the mucus membranes) may be seen

If you are concerned that you or you pet have been in contact with a diseased host or contaminated water and are displaying clinical signs, seek professional medical attention promptly for blood tests. For more information please go to: www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/pets/<http://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/pets/>

So at your pet’s next exam, make sure you ask which vaccines you pet needs based on the region in which you live. Remember—we are on your side, and here to help your pet live a long and very healthy life!

-K.L. Mitchell

K.L. Mitchell and her Great Dane puppy Capone.

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