WHAT IS LEPTOSPIROSIS?
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that has been on the rise in Arizona since February 2016. This bacteria is spread in the urine of infected animals, including rodents, wildlife, pets, and livestock. Contaminated urine can get into water or soil, where it can survive for months. People and dogs can be infected through contact with infected urine or urine-contaminated water or wet soil.
Dogs with leptospirosis can spread the infection to people. Dogs with leptospirosis can shed the bacteria in their urine for up to several months, even if they don’t have symptoms.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Dogs who have severe leptospirosis infections may experience vomiting, diarrhea, depression, lack of appetite, lethargy, muscle pain, increased thirst and urination, and fever. Jaundice may also occur. Jaundice is an indication of liver inflammation and shows up as yellowing of the lining of the mouth and whites of the eyes.
Blood clotting issues may occur, which can result in bleeding from a dog’s mouth tissues or blood in the stool. Death can occur in severe cases of leptospirosis.
IS THERE A TREATMENT?
Leptospirosis is generally treated with antibiotics and supportive care. When treated early and aggressively, the chances for recovery are good but there is still a risk of permanent residual kidney or liver damage.
IS THERE A VACCINE TO PREVENT LEPTOSPIROSIS?
Yes! There is a vaccine that effectively prevents leptospirosis and protects dogs for at least 12 months. Annual vaccination is recommended for at-risk dogs. Reducing your dog’s exposure to possible sources of Leptospira bacteria can reduce its chances of infection.
Owners should keep their dogs from swimming in or drinking water from ponds, streams, and puddles. Owners should also safely control the rodent population both in and around their homes.
Ask your veterinarian about Leptospirosis, and whether or not your dog should get the vaccine.