Monday, September 26, 2016

Leptospirosis in Dogs

Lepto....What? Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects canines, humans and other animals such as livestock and wildlife. It is zoonotic, meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans. Leptospires infiltrate the body system by burrowing into the skin and spreading throughout the body by way of the bloodstream. It then can infect the entire body by reproducing in the liver, kidneys, central nervous system, eyes and reproductive system. Soon after infection, a fever and bacterial infection of the blood will develop. But usually the body will resolve itself through antibodies. Depending upon the extent of the infection and the body's immune system, even after it has been resolved, Leptospirosis can remain in the kidneys and reproduce. Thus, infecting an animal's urine. Younger animals and animals with a weakened immune system are at the highest risk of complications with this bacteria.

Since Leptospires can infect an animal's urine, it is usually passed to another animal through water sources such as stagnant water, moist soil and recreational lakes/ponds. Exposure risk increases during summer and early fall months. It's rarely fatal to humans, but the Center for Disease Control estimates that there are up to 200 human cases a year in the United States.

Diagnosis of Leptospirosis can be somewhat tricky because it looks like many other diseases. But, here are some of the symptoms:

 Preventative Tips: 
  • Vaccinate your dog and livestock. Interestingly, Cats seem to have a natural defense to this bacterial infection, so there is not a vaccination for cats. 
  • Avoid stagnant water with your pets.
  • Good sanitation is a must for your family. Practice hand washing (especially with children who are at higher risk) when handling anything that may have your dog's urine on it. 
  • If you work in an environment that involves routine exposure to standing water or wildlife, wear protective clothing. 
Leptospirosis can only be diagnosed by a veterinarian. Because it looks like many other diseases, diagnosis can be frustrating and costly requiring numerous blood and urine tests. Once diagnosed, your veterinarian may recommend intravenous fluids, antibiotics as well as any other therapies depending upon the extent of the infection.

For more information, you can visit these websites:

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