Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease which is spread through the urine of infected and ‘carrier’ animals. Most mammals, including dogs and people can contract Lepto by contact with infected urine or contaminated soil or water. The bacteria enters the body through broken skin or via the mouth, nose and eyes.
The bacteria typically cause damage to the kidneys, liver and blood cells. Lethargy, poor appetite, vomiting, increased thirst, bleeding and bruising may be the first signs of Lepto. Routine blood tests will identify the kidney, liver or blood problems but additional testing is needed to confirm the presence of the Lepto organism.
Treatment is aimed at supporting the kidneys, liver and blood cells using intravenous fluids and, in some cases, a transfusion. Antibiotics are given to kill the Lepto organism. Medications for nausea and pain may also be indicated.
Since Lepto is transmissible to people, it is important for caregivers and owners to take precautions by avoiding contact with urine, etc. during and for 3+ weeks after treatment.
Leptospirosis is not epidemic in our area but it is endemic – always present. We suggest vaccinating your dogs for the four (in one shot) most common strains of Lepto every year.
Dr. Earl Mummert
801 Poquonnock Rd.
Groton, Ct. 06340