Cases of Dogs With Leptospirosis on the Rise

Kansas Sate University reports an increase in the bacterial infection common in wet weather.

Posted: November 6, 2008, 5 a.m. EST

Kansas State University recently reported a dramatic increase in the number of dogs with leptospirosis, a bacterial infection common in wet weather.

“The rain has made this a banner fall for leptospirosis,” said Kenneth Harkin, DVM, an associate professor of clinical sciences at K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, who developed a test to improve the diagnosis of the infection. “Our lab is seeing a positive test about every other day.”

The disease is transmitted through the urine of domestic and wild animals and can be transmitted to people. Harkin said that dogs usually pick up the infection from a water source like a puddle or pond. It is also possible for dogs to get leptospirosis through water bowls if another infected animal, such as a rodent, has been in contact with the water.

Symptoms may include lethargy, vomiting, poor appetite, increased drinking, and any evidence of kidney failure.

Harkin said that concerned dog owners can ask veterinarians to run a test to check for leptospirosis. Antibiotics are used to treat the infection. However, vaccines are available to prevent an infection in the first place, Harkin added.


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Lauren   Brunswick, OH

1/6/2012 8:19:44 AM

Their is much controversy on the Lepto vaccine, true. However, contaminated dogs CAN transmit the disease to people and in humans it can be fatal. How would you feel if you chose not to vaccinate your dog for lepto and your child got the disease from your dog?? Dont you think the benefits FAR outweigh the risks? My dog is a member of my family (I hand raised her since she was found in a ditch at 2 months old and dying of parvo) and she is the best pet I have EVER had. I vaccinate her for lepto KNOWING the potential risk because I want to protect myself and my family. Think about that.

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Maggie   Lancaster, PA

10/2/2009 4:08:25 AM

I never give the lepto vaccine to puppies, it can be harmful. If you want to vaccinate for Lepto consider doing it when your dog is older.


Vaccines are never a guaruntee of immunity, regardless of how effective the vaccine has been tested to be. Each individual is different, and the timing of the vaccine can also be key. If you vaccinate puppies too young (in the 5-12 week range possibly) the vaccine will cancel out the natural immunity rec'd from the dam leaving the puppy without immunity. Too many vaccines are given at the same time as well, which can affect the immune system. Educate yourself and then make an informed decision with your vet.

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D.   Indianapolis, IN

11/9/2008 10:58:58 AM

I've read that the lepto vaccines can be harmful to your dog. I also heard that about the Lyme disease vacc.

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Pat   St Louis, MO

11/6/2008 11:15:20 AM

This is pretty scary. My old vet (now retired) used to include the lepto vaccine in the combo shot. But I noticed that the last combo shot my dog got didn't include lepto. I know there are several strains of lepto and some vets don't vaccinate unless asked to. I figure, better some protection than none at all.

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