Veterinarians at the University of Florida’s Small Animal Hospital warned of a spike in cases of dogs with leptospirosis. The increase is concerning because leptospirosis is zoonotic, meaning it can be transmitted between animals and humans.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 100 and 200 human cases of lepto are reported in the U.S. each year, with around half occurring in Hawaii. And while the incidence of lepto is relatively low in this country, it is thought to be the most widespread zoonotic disease in the world.
However, between September 2013 and March 2014, the UF animal hospital saw 12 dogs with the infection.
For more information on how the disease affects humans, visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
How Leptospirosis Is Transmitted to Dogs
The pathogen that causes the disease, Leptospira bacteria, is transmitted in the urine of infected animals.
Symptoms of Infection
Many dogs with mild lepto infections never show any symptoms at all. Generally speaking, young dogs tend to get sicker than older dogs.
Treating a Leptospirosis Infection
Some dogs exposed to leptospirosis recover without medical treatment because they never show overt symptoms. Unfortunately, an untreated dog who recovers from the infection can become a carrier and shed the bacteria in urine for up to a year.
Preventing a Leptospirosis Infection in Your Own Pet
For more information about why this vaccine is NOT recommended, download Dr. Patricia Jordan’s article.
Infection is most common in the summer months, the early fall, and during periods of flooding.
If you have a healthy dog who suddenly has a fever, grows lethargic, perhaps is urinating excessively or is urinating bright fresh blood, you need to call your veterinarian immediately and get your pet in for a lepto test.
Leptospirosis infection can be life threatening to humans, leading to kidney failure, liver failure, and meningitis.
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