Let’s Talk About Lepto
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can infect both people and animals- including your pet. The bacteria that causes the disease is spread by the urine of carrier animals such as raccoons, skunks, rodents, and deer. Lepto infections peak in the fall, often after periods of heavy rainfall or flooding. When dogs come in contact with infected urine in the environment or stagnant water, the bacteria will quickly travel through their bloodstream and cause fever, lethargy, anorexia, and joint pain. Within a week, the bacteria can infect their internal organs and lead to acute kidney and liver failure; your pet may show clinical signs of excessive thirst and urination, vomiting, diarrhea, and yellowing of the skin
Treatment for Leptospirosis infections requires aggressive fluid support to maintain blood flow to the kidneys and antibiotics to kill the bacteria and eliminate it from the bloodstream. Some patients are hospitalized for a week or more while they receive treatment. The survival rate following infection with Leptospirosis is 70-80%, however some patients may have long-term kidney or liver damage.
Fortunately, there is a vaccine available to help protect your pet against this dangerous disease. Capitol Illini Veterinary Services carries a 4-Way Lepto vaccine that induces immunity against the four most common strains of Leptospirosis. While no vaccine will be 100% effective in preventing disease, the vaccine plays a major role in reducing the risk of infection and also largely reduces the severity of the disease if your dog is infected. Other ways you can help protect your pet is by removing rodents from your pet’s environment and avoiding stagnant water. People can also be affected by Leptospirosis so vaccination is important to also keep you safe at home.
It is important to remember that best chance for a positive outcome is related to early diagnosis and treatment- if your pet isn’t feeling well, have them in for an exam so they can be evaluated for early warning signs. If you have questions or concerns about Leptospirosis and your pet, call and speak to one of our veterinarians about what you can do to keep your pet safe!
-Dr. Colleen Helgen