The time: June and July, 1998. The place:
Leptospirosis in people is an acute febrile illness characterized
by fever, chills, tremors, muscle pain and headache. Other signs may
include conjunctivitis, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea and skin
rashes. Meningitis, jaundice, renal failure, hemorrhage, or shock
may follow. Jaundice indicates liver damage and increases the
fatality rate. Mild leptospirosis is more common and typically
causes vague, flu-like symptoms that follow recovery. Many of those
infections go unreported.
Leptospira infect domestic (pets and livestock) and wild animals.
The bacteria are shed through the urine and contaminate the
environment. Leptospira organisms can be found in fresh water, damp
soil, vegetation, and mud, particularly during summer months.
Leptospirosis is an occupational disease of farmers, sewer and
slaughterhouse workers, but many people can become infected while
swimming or playing in contaminated water. The disease also can be
transmitted through direct contact with urine, blood or tissue from
an infected animal. The bacteria can enter through turgid or injured
skin and through intact mucus membranes. It is generally not
transmitted from person to person.
In dogs, Leptospirosis is an acute infection of the kidney and liver and, sometime, the whole body. Chronic kidney disease is a common sequella of infection. Infected females may become infertile or have persistent abortions. Vague or mild signs contribute to under diagnosis.
A recent study suggests that the prevalence of leptospirosis
among dogs is on the rise. Herding, working, and gundog breed
categories and sexually intact male dogs appear to be at the
greatest risk. There are many kinds of Leptospira, which make
vaccinations difficult. Most dogs are routinely vaccinated for the
major two types of the bacterium. Since wildlife are a common
reserve of Leptospira (rats, mice, squirrels, raccoons, hedgehogs,
voles, opossum, mole, hedgehog, fox, woodchuck, muskrats, deer and
fox), and neighboring dogs may be carriers. Even the back yard is
not a safe place.
Avoiding unsafe water reservoirs, practicing pest and rodent control and providing adequate vaccinations significantly reduces the risk of contracting leptospirosis by your dogs and your family. Your veterinarian will help you address the issue and provide you with more specific information.
More information at http://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/pets/[Back]