Leptospirosis and Pets: A Real Risk to Pets and People
There are many pros when it comes to living in Oregon, and depending on who you are, our climate may or may not be one of them. The rain we see in this area is a highlight to some, but there is no doubt that it brings its own set of challenges.
One thing that our wet climate brings to the forefront is an increased risk of certain diseases. The CDC has recently identified our area as a hotbed for the disease leptospirosis, which affects pets and people. Community Pet Hospital thinks it is very important for our clients to understand this disease and what can be done to keep leptospirosis and pets from intermingling.
An Intro to Leptospirosis and Pets
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection caused by the spiral-shaped organism Leptospira interrogans. The bacteria gains access to the pet’s bloodstream by entering through the skin or mucous membranes.
Leptospirosis is typically transmitted through the urine of infected wildlife and can live in standing water and contaminated soil. In particular, damp areas, such as those we are all too familiar with in Oregon, are the prime locations to find this organism.
When a pet is infected with leptospirosis, the bacteria makes its way through the body, settling in the liver and/or kidneys. The immune system begins to work hard in order to eliminate the bacteria from the body, but it may not be effective or may not be able to do so before permanent organ damage occurs. Symptoms may vary, but most pets infected with leptospirosis show signs, including:
- Decreased appetite
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Digestive upset
- Enlarged lymph nodes
If not treated, pets infected with leptospirosis can die, typically due to kidney or liver failure. Even if they do recover, infected animals may continue to shed the organism in their urine, becoming a potential source of infection to their human owners. It is estimated that approximately 50% of people affected by leptospirosis are infected by their pets.
Leptospirosis is bad news whether you are human or canine. Fortunately, though, you are not simply left to fate as an Oregon resident. Vaccinating your pet against leptospirosis is an important step to helping prevent this serious disease.
The goal of vaccination is to help the immune system recognize a disease, so that it can more effectively fight it off. There are several different subtypes of the Leptospira bacteria, called serovars. We currently are able to vaccinate against the four most common serovars. This is great, but it means that pets who have been vaccinated can still contract leptospirosis.
All hope is not lost, however, as vaccinated pets tend to have less serious symptoms. This may be due to the fact that vaccination against one of the serovars likely provides some cross-protection against other serovars. With the serious nature of this disease and its zoonotic potential (the ability to cross to humans), that is saying a lot.
At our hospital, we think it is very important to protect at-risk pets. Please discuss leptospirosis vaccination with us at your next wellness visit, and don’t hesitate to call if you have questions. Leptospirosis is a serious disease, but together we can work to minimize the risk.
“Very friendly and professional personnel. We love this place, and our dogs do too! ” —~ Amanda Vallejo
“Thank you for a commitment to Jovs health. You (as a group) are a bright star in what could be a dark night.’ —Charles Avery
“We come here with all our animals because of the quality of care we receive, and the great prices. Great staff. —Jennifer Ellwood
“Staff was very friendly and helpful. Our first visit has been awesome. The vet was very helpful and took time to talk and explain everything. Thank you. —Elizabeth
“Always friendly, kind, and informative. Thank you! —Vicky Kelly
“Dr. Christensen is always very thorough and kind to my pets. We appreciate her very much. She is a wonderful asset to the clinic. —Becky Goldman
“I have come to love the staff and the new owners. These people truly care and love animals. I ’m thankful to find these people I’ve had such bad experiences from the other clinics around the area with such high prices. —April Veneigh
“Our family pet, Griffey, receives unsurpassed, compassionate care at Community Pet Hospital! Thank you, Community Pet Hospital, for always being there for us humans and those very important animal members of our family. I love you guys!! —Karen Smith
“Thank you to both Dr. Johnson and his wife Bonnie. Your compassion helped so much in our time of need. I will recommend you to everyone as you are so good and really care. —Cheryl Stone
“The doctor and technician were so kind and gentle with my scardy cat. Thanks. —Margaret Krauss
“I would heartily recommend your Community Pet Clinic to anyone who is looking for an excellent veterinarian. —Michael Jordan
“By far the best Vet experience I’ve ever had. Everybody was just wonderful. —Courtney Bertrand
“Excellent! They were very loving and went out of their way to treat my dog! —Deanna Nebert
“5 STARS!! Great service and excellent receptionist! Sarah and Christine is who I worked with today. —Leroy Banks