A new look at lepto

By Connie Orcutt • Published: March 1st, 2014
Category: Animal Airwaves

Leptospirosis is a potentially fatal disease caused by bacteria that thrive in wet environments.

While infections are most common in tropical and subtropical climes, the incidence of lepto has risen alarmingly in the United States, even in drier sites that were previously unaffected.

The Leptospira bacteria spreads via the urine of infected wild mammals and dogs. Contact with urine-contaminated water, soil or other substances can infect you or your dog. Once Leptospira enters the body, it heads for the liver or kidneys. Signs of illness can include lethargy, vomiting or fever as well as joint pain and yellowing of the skin, gums and eyes. If the kidneys or liver fail, the result can be deadly.

A vaccine is available but its effectiveness and safety are controversial. Your veterinarian can help you decide if it’s right for your dog.