There are a lot of different sub-types of leptospirosis; the main ones are L. icterohaemorrhagiae and L. canicola, but recently L.grippotyphosa and L. bratislava become serious issues.
How are dogs infected?
Rats and other rodents mainly carry the lepto bacteria, but almost ANY mammal, including people, can also carry it. An animal that is either entirely infected or even just a carrier of the disease can transmit the bacteria.
Ingestion of infected urine or rodent-contaminated garbage is the most important means of transmission.
Some forms of the bacteria CAN penetrate the damaged or thin skin. For example, dogs swimming in contaminated water can become infected through their skin. The incubation period from infection to clinical signs is usually 4 – 12 days.
What are the signs of Lepto?
Many Lepto infections go undetected. Other cases can be life-threatening. There are three primary forms of the disease:
1) Hemorrhagic (bleeding) – High fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, multiple small haemorrhages occur in the mouth and on the whites of the eyes, bloody diarrhoea and vomiting. This form is often fatal.
2) Jaundice (liver) – Begins much like the hemorrhagic form with many of the same clinical signs. However, there is yellowing of the mouth and whites of the eyes. In severe cases, the skin will turn yellow as well.
3) Renal (kidney) – This form causes kidney failure. Very lethargic, loss of appetite (weight), vomiting, horrible breath, tongue ulcers, diarrhea, excessive drinking/urinating, blood in urine, abdominal pain, a fever that can come and go. Dogs that survive this form may be left with chronic kidney disease.
How is Lepto diagnosed?
Because clinical signs can mimic other diseases, a definitive diagnosis can be tricky. Taking blood samples DURING infection and again during the RECOVERY period that shows an increase in antibodies to Leptospira is supportive of the diagnosis.
How is it treated?
Antibiotics (often long-term) and intensive in-hospital veterinary care.
How is it prevented?
Leptospirosis Vaccination. We recommend the Nobivac L4 vaccine for your dog as this helps protect agaist the four main strains that pose a risk in the UK to yuor dog.
LEPTOSPIROSIS CAN BE TRANSMITTED TO PEOPLE.