Leptospirosis: not just a threat for wildlife anymore

By Connie Orcutt • Published: November 1st, 2012
Category: Animal Airwaves

Suburban crawl continues to ramp up the risk of disease spread from wildlife to pets. A case in point is leptospirosis [lep-tō-spī-RŌ-sis], a serious bacterial infection that has quietly been on the rise in the United States since the late 1990’s.

It spreads through contact with water or soil contaminated by other infected animals, usually wildlife and often rodents. Any animal is at risk, but dogs are hit extra hard. Even people can become infected, although that’s rare in the U.S.

Some infected dogs show no signs of disease. Others experience vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal or muscle pain and weakness or stiffness. A veterinarian can confirm the diagnosis and early treatment usually improves the outcome.

A vaccine is available for dogs, and people should wash their hands after being outside. Wildlife can be fun to watch, but always steer clear of feral critters!