Leptospirosis is considered to be the most widespread zoonotic infection in the world, with infected dogs a source of infection.45,46
Leptospirosis is an infectious disease that causes serious illness in dogs, other animals, and people. The disease is caused by spiral-shaped bacteria called leptospires that live in water or warm, wet soil.
Initial signs of leptospirosis include fever, lethargy, and lack of appetite. Left untreated, it can develop into a more severe, life-threatening illness that affects the kidneys, liver, brain, lungs, and heart.
CANINE LEPTOSPIROSIS FAST FACTS
- Prevalence of canine leptospirosis has increased in recent years.47,48
- As many as 8.2% of dogs are shedding leptospires, some asymptomatically.49
- Weather changes, population growth, and habitat encroachment have all increased human and canine exposure to pathogens and their carriers.47,48
Transmission of leptospirosis can occur through direct contact or indirectly through environmental exposure.
- Leptospires enter the body through mucous membranes in the mouth, eyes, or nose, or through abraded or water-softened skin.50
- Leptospires multiply in a host animal’s bloodstream.
- Leptospires move from the bloodstream to the kidneys and other tissues to continue reproducing.
- Leptospires pass from the kidneys into the urine; then are shed back into the environment.
- Other dogs, wild animals, or people can become infected through direct or indirect contact.
- Weight loss
- Acute renal failure
- Abdominal discomfort
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Blood in urine is uncommon, but may occur
- Respiratory distress
DOGS AT RISK
Dogs at risk for developing leptospirosis include those with:51
- Access to ponds, lakes, streams, or standing water
- Exposure to urine from other infected animals, including:
- Other dogs in shelters or other pet care facilities
- Wildlife (e.g. rodents, racoons, opossum, deer), either through direct contact with urine or through contaminated water
As leptospirosis progresses, it can result in:50,51
- Leptospires can multiply in the bloodstream and spread to many tissues and organs
- Vascular damage/thrombocytopenia
- Can lead to kidney failure and interfere with liver function
- Contributes to coagulatory abnormalities and hemorrhages
- Severe kidney and liver damage
- Acute renal failure occurs in dogs with severe clinical signs
- Acute hepatic dysfunction or chronic hepatitis have been caused by specific serovars
Leptospiruria (urinary shedding)50,51
- Infected dogs can enter a carrier state
- Organisms may persist in the kidney and be shed in the urine for weeks to months
- Other dogs, wild animals, and humans can become infected from direct or indirect contact with these leptospires that were shed into the environment
KEEP YOUR STAFF PROTECTED FROM LEPTOSPIROSIS
Do you have a Standard Operating procedure to keep your staff and clinic safe if an outbreak occurs?
Merck Animal Health Vaccines
Easy Ways to Inform Pet Parents about Leptospirosis
Hear leading veterinary experts Dr. Courtney Campbell and Dr. Michelle Evason discuss leptospirosis and how to prevent this dangerous zoonotic disease.
Share this basic video to help pet parents understand treatment options for leptospirosis as well as what they can do to reduce their dog’s risk.
A simple reference for facts presented in a visual way–a great resource for sharing online.
Stay alert for these signs of leptospirosis to prevent the spread of this potentially deadly disease.
Renowned pet journalist and radio host Steve Dale discusses protecting your pets & family from leptospirosis.
Help pet parents keep their pets safe with these preventative measures.
Help pet parents to recognize the clinical signs of leptospirosis.
Share this printable brochure to educate pet parents in your clinic about transmission, risks and outcomes.
Fact vs Fiction – listen to the latest thoughts from veterinary experts on vaccinating for leptospirosis.
No items to show.
Professional Resources and Educational Materials
Keep your clinic and staff informed and aware of diseases and outbreaks.
A handy guide to protect dogs and prevent the spread of leptospirosis.
Learn why it’s important to have a Standard Operating Procedure to reduce the risk of leptospirosis in your practice.
No items to show.
No items to show.
45. https://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/health_care_workers/index.html. Accessed June 6, 2018
46. https://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/infection/index.html. Accessed June 6, 2018
47. http://www.akcchf.org/educational-resources/library/articles/canine-leptospirosis-on-the.html; Accessed June 6, 2018.
48. White AM, Zambrana-Torrelio C, Allen T, et al. Hotspots of canine leptospirosis in the United States of America. The Vet Journal 2017; 222: 29–35.
49. Harkin KR, Roshto YM, Sullivan JT, et al. Comparison of polymerase chain reaction assay, bacteriologic culture, and serologic testing in assessment of prevalence of urinary shedding of leptospires in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;222:1230–1233.
50. Greene CE, Sykes JE, Moore GE, et al. Leptospirosis In: Greene CE, ed. Infectious Diseases of the Dog and Cat 4th ed. St Louis, MO: Saunders/Elsevier; 2012: 431-447.
51. J.E. Sykes, K. Hartmann, K.F. Lunn, et al. 2010 ACVIM Small Animal Consensus Statement on Leptospirosis: Diagnosis, Epidemiology, Treatment, and Prevention. J Vet Intern Med 2011; 25: 1–13.