Canine Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is considered to be the most widespread zoonotic infection in the world, with infected dogs a source of infection.10,11

Disease Overview

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.

Fast Facts About Leptospirosis

  • Prevalence of canine leptospirosis has increased in recent years.2,3
  • As many as 8.2% of dogs are shedding leptospires, some asymptomatically.4
  • Weather changes, population growth, and habitat encroachment have all increased human and canine exposure to pathogens and their carriers.2,3

Transmission

Transmission of leptospirosis can occur through direct contact or indirectly through environmental exposure.

  1. Leptospires enter the body through mucous membranes in the mouth, eyes, or nose, or through abraded or water-softened skin.13
  2. Leptospires multiply in a host animal’s bloodstream.
  3. Leptospires move from the bloodstream to the kidneys and other tissues to continue reproducing.
  4. Leptospires pass from the kidneys into the urine; then are shed back into the environment.
  5. Other dogs, wild animals, or people can become infected through direct or indirect contact.

Clinical Signs13

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Anorexia
  • Depression
  • Acute renal failure
  • Jaundice
  • 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:5

  • 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, raccoons, opossum, deer), either through direct contact with urine or through contaminated water

Morbidity Threats

As leptospirosis progresses, it can result in:5,13

  • Leptospiremia
    • 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 coagulation 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

Spreading Disease

Leptospiruria (urinary shedding)5,13

  • Infected dogs can enter a carrier state
  • Organisms may persist in the kidney and be shed in the urine for weeks to months

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

Nobivac® Lepto4

The only 4-way leptospirosis vaccine proven to be effective against disease, mortality, and leptospiruria.

Also Available in Combination Formulation

Easy Ways to Inform Pet Parents about Leptospirosis

Dangers of Lepto

Podcast

Hear leading veterinary experts Dr. Courtney Campbell and Dr. Michelle Evason discuss leptospirosis and how to prevent this dangerous zoonotic disease.  

listen

Diagnosis & Treatment

Video

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.  

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Infographic Map

Marketing

A simple reference for facts presented in a visual way–a great resource for sharing online.

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Lepto Basics

Video

Stay alert for these signs of leptospirosis to prevent the spread of this potentially deadly disease.

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Protect Your Pets & Family from Leptospirosis

Video

Renowned pet journalist and radio host Steve Dale discusses protecting your pets & family from leptospirosis.  

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Risks & Prevention

Video

Help pet parents keep their pets safe with these preventative measures.  

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Signs of Disease

Video

Help pet parents to recognize the clinical signs of leptospirosis.  

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Understand Your Dog’s Risk

Brochure

Share this printable brochure to educate pet parents in your clinic about transmission, risks and outcomes.  

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Zoonotic Risks

Video

Fact vs Fiction – listen to the latest thoughts from veterinary experts on vaccinating for leptospirosis.

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Professional Leptospirosis Resources & Studies

Quick Guide to Lepto

eBook

A handy guide to protect dogs and prevent the spread of leptospirosis.

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Standard Operating Procedure

Video

Learn why it’s important to have a Standard Operating Procedure to reduce the risk of leptospirosis in your practice.

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Disease & Mortality Study

Revention of Disease and Mortality in Vaccinated Dogs Following Experimental Challenge With Virulent Leptospira.

R LaFleur, J Dant, T Wasmoen. Intervet / Schering Plough Animal Health, Elkhorn, NE.

Canine Leptospirosis can vary from subclinical infection to illness that ranges from mild to severe, including death, depending on the susceptibility of the dog, virulence of the organism, and route and degree of infection. The objective of this study was to evaluate the ability of a canine Leptospira bacterin to prevent infection and disease following challenge with virulent Leptospira canicola, L. pomona, L. grippotyphosa, or L. icterohaemorrhagiae. Groups of 8-week-old beagles were vaccinated (day 0) and boosted (day 21) with placebo (n = 10) or the 4-way bacterin (n ≥ 20) and subsequently challenged with each serovar. The results demonstrated that blood and various tissue samples from placebo-recipients became reliably infected, and the dogs developed typical clinical signs of Leptospirosis including loss of appetite, ocular congestion, depression, dehydration, jaundice, hematuria, melena, vomiting, petechiae, and death. In addition, placebo-recipients developed kidney and liver dysfunction. In contrast, some vaccine-recipients became infected, but the organisms were cleared quickly from the blood. Vaccinated dogs failed to develop severe clinical disease requiring medical intervention, and no animals died (p > 0.001). A few of the vaccinated dogs developed clinical abnormalities, but the clinical signs remained mild and were self-limiting (p < 0.0001 for each serovar). Administration of the bacterin also prevented thrombocytopenia (p < 0.0001), kidney complications caused by L. canicola (p < 0.0001), L. icterohaemorrhagiae (p < 0.0001), and L. pomona (p = 0.012), and liver dysfunction caused by L. pomona (p < 0.0001) and L. grippotyphosa (p < 0.0001). The results therefore confirmed that vaccinating dogs with the 4-way Leptospira bacterin provided a high degree of protection (99.5%-100%) against the clinical signs of Leptospirosis including mortality.

Urinary Shedding Challenge Study

Prevention of Leptospiremia and Leptospiruria Following Vaccination With a Dappv + 4-way Leptospira Combination Vaccine

Rhonda L. LaFleur, Jennifer C. Dant, Anna L. Tubbs, Huchappa Jayappa, David Sutton, Ian Tarpey

Background: Leptospirosis, characterized by high fever, anorexia, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, myalgia, polyuria/polydipsia, jaundice, epistaxis, hematuria, and/or reproductive failure, continues to cause considerable morbidity among infected canines. Direct transmission of Leptospira spp. occurs when dogs come into contact with infected urine or ingest infected tissue. After dogs become infected, the spirochetes circulate in the blood for several days,1,3 where they cause extensive damage to the endothelium of small blood vessels (leptospiremia). After the leptospiremic phase, the spirochetes can further colonize various organs, including the kidneys, where dogs can become a carrier and potentially shed organisms in the urine for months (leptospiruria). Leptospira interrogans serovars Canicola and Icterohaemorrhagiae are traditional causative agents of canine leptospirosis, and while the use of bacterins have decreased the prevalence of the disease, significant morbidity can still be attributed to infection with these serovars.

Aim to Work: In this study, we combined inactivated L interrogans serovars Canicola, Pomona, and Icterohaemorrhagiae and L kirschneri serovar Grippotyphosa with Nobivac® Canine 1-DAPPv (Animal Health at Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ USA), a commercially available vaccine that contains modified live canine distemper virus, adenovirus, parainfluenza virus, and parvovirus. We then vaccinated dogs with the combination product and evaluated the ability of the vaccination to prevent leptospiremia and leptospiruria following challenge with viable organisms of each serovar.

 

Read More about this study here

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TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE

For technical assistance or to report a suspected adverse drug reaction, contact Merck Animal Health at 1-800-224-5318

References:

Data on file, Merck Animal Health 

2. http://www.akcchf.org/educational-resources/library/articles/canine-leptospirosis-on-the.html; Accessed June 6, 2018. 

3. 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. 

4. 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. 

5. 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. 

6. Nobivac® Lepto4 [product label], Madison, NJ: Merck Animal Health; 2018. 7. VANGUARD® L4 [product label]. Florham Park, NJ: Zoetis, Inc; 2018. 

8. RECOMBITEK® 4 Lepto [product label]. Duluth, GA: Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health; 2018. 

9. ULTRA Duramune® 4L, LEPTOVAX® 4 [product labels]. Greenfield, IN: Elanco; 2018. 

10. https://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/health_care_workers/index.html. Accessed June 6, 2018 

11. https://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/infection/index.html. Accessed June 6, 2018 

13. 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. 

14. LaFleur RL, Dant JC, Wasmoen TL. Prevention of disease and mortality in vaccinated dogs following experimental challenge with virulent leptospira. J Vet Int Med, May/June 2011, Vol 25, Issue 3; 747. 

15. LaFleur RL, Dant JC, Tubbs AL, et al. Prevention of leptospiremia and leptospiruria following vaccination with a DAPPv + 4-way leptospira combination vaccine. Abstract & Poster, ISCAID meeting, Bristol, UK, 2016. 

16. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reported cases of Lyme disease by state or locality, 2003–2012. http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/chartstables/reportedcases_statelocality.html. Accessed November 18, 2013.