We have all been astonished with the high number of positive Leptospirosis, or “Lepto”, cases that we have seen at West Ridge lately. What makes us even more saddened is that Lepto is preventable in dogs through a yearly vaccine. By vaccinating your dog, you are also keeping yourself protected too! Leptospirosis is a type of bacteria that is primarily transmitted through the urine of wild or infected animals to other animals and humans, and can survive for long periods of time in soil and water.
Lepto in humans
There are nearly 1500 species of infectious organisms that cause disease in humans and more than 60% of these organisms are zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted from animals to humans.2 “Leptospirosis is probably the most widespread and prevalent zoonotic disease in the world.”1 Over the past decade, this disease has been rearing it’s ugly head around the world with many human outbreaks occurring, an estimated 1 million cases worldwide annually, including approximately 59,000 human deaths.1,3 In the United States, there are approximately 100-150 Lepto cases reported annually.3 Leptospirosis in humans commonly starts as flu-like symptoms, for more information on human symptoms, click HERE. Despite this knowledge and risk, the Leptospirosis vaccine is not considered a core vaccine currently for dogs. We at WRAH want to change that and have all of our dog friends protected against this scary disease!
Lepto in Dogs
Similar to the disease in humans, Lepto in dogs is the “great pretender” meaning it can look like many other diseases. (For all those X-Men fans, think of this disease as Mystique). The most common presenting signs in dogs include: vomiting, lethargy, and not eating, which then lead to severe kidney and liver disease. In the last 2 months, we have seen close to 10 suspect or confirmed cases of Lepto. This is a significant rise for this area!
If that’s not enough to vaccinate your pet for Lepto, we can look at the economic side. On average, it costs approximately $2,000 US dollars to diagnose and treat a case of leptospirosis in a dog, while it is $23 US dollars to prevent the disease with an annual vaccine. Therefore, a dog could get an annual vaccine for 86.9 years, seven times the average lifespan of a dog, to equal the cost of one treatment, which could be fatal.
We follow the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommendation that dogs be vaccinated for Leptospirosis initially at 12-16 weeks of age with a booster in 3-4 weeks and then yearly thereafter. There is not a Leptospirosis vaccine for cats as they are less likely to be exposed if they are indoors.
Give us a call to get your dog up to date on its Lepto vaccine and help us keep Weld County protected!
- Hartskeerl, R. A., Collares-Pereira, M., Ellis, W. A. (2011). Emergence, control and re-
emerging leptospirosis: dynamic of infection in the changing world. Clin Microbiol Infect, 17, 494-501.
- Moore, G.E., Lund, E. (2009). Disease reporting and surveillance: Where do companion
animal diseases fit in? Vet Clin Small Anim, 39, 225-240.
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017 November 22). Technical Information for
Leptospirosis. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/health_care_workers/index.html. Accessed January 17, 2018.