What is leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease which can affect many animals. It is rare in cats, but more common in dogs. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be passed from animals to humans. It is caused by many different strains of related bacteria.
How do dogs contract leptospirosis?
Leptospira bacteria are shed in the urine of infected animals, though they can be found in other body fluids and tissues. Dogs can become infected by exposure to contaminated water (both through ingestion or contact with mucous membranes or broken skin), exposure to urine from an infected animal (e.g. contaminated food, bedding, soil, etc.), bite wounds, and ingestion of tissues from infected animals. Leptospira bacteria survive especially well in warm, humid areas, and are often found in stagnant water (e.g. ponds). Wild animals can carry Leptospira.
What are the symptoms of leptospirosis infection?
- Joint or muscle pain
- Decreased appetite
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
- Discharge from nose and eyes
- Frequent urination – may be followed by lack of urination
- Jaundice – yellow eyes and gums
How do we treat leptospirosis?
Antibiotics are used to kill Leptospira bacteria. However, once kidney and/or liver failure is present, the prognosis for recovery is worse. In these cases, aggressive treatment is vital, including intravenous fluids, medications to reduce vomiting and treat other effects of kidney and liver failure, and dialysis. However, depending on the severity of disease, treatment is not always successful when organ failure is present.