Leptospirosis is a worldwide disease that affects humans as well as many animal species. Transmission of the disease occurs most commonly from exposure to contaminated water but can also be transmitted from infected animals to people. This occurs through mucus membrane contact or through breaks in the skin. Urine from infected animals can also be highly contagious to humans or other animals.
Leptospirosis is a disease caused by coil-shaped bacteria called Leptospires. There are numerous forms of Leptospira in the environment and unfortunately vaccinating your pets does not ensure protection against all strains.
Signs and symptoms:
Dogs infected with Leptospirosis may show no signs of illness or they may show very distinct symptoms. Common symptoms associated with Leptospirosis include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, lethargy, muscle pain, or sudden death. Kidney and/or liver failure in dogs is also common. A diagnosis of Leptospirosis is confirmed with blood or urine tests but treatment is usually started before the diagnosis is confirmed due to the length of time required to obtain results.
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Leptospirosis: How can we reduce the risk?
Prevention of Leptospirosis is not an easy task but many products on today's market ease the difficulty in tackling this disease. Despite advances in modern medicine, current vaccines don't address all strains of Lepto. This is because Leptospirosis continues to morph into different subtypes and strains much quicker than vaccines can adapt to address them. Therefore, vaccinating a dog against Leptospirosis is controversial because vaccination does not equate 100% protection.
However, as with most vaccines the benefits of vaccinations far outweigh any risks of the vaccine it itself. Because Leptospirosis is a potentially life-threatening disease and is now the number one infectious cause of acute renal failure in dogs Lambert Vet Supply suggests the use of LeptoVax. Also Canine Spectra 7 and Canine Spectra 8 offer an easy-to-use annual vaccine to help prevent Leptospirosis and other potentially life-threatening illnesses.
Simple methods to reduce the risk for Leptospirosis are to be cautious of risks of infection. Association with large wildlife populations, contact with standing pools of water, and direct contact with animal urine are all situations that need to be approached with caution. Additionally disinfectants work well for controlling contamination of kennels with Leptospires. Trifectant is an example of an effective disinfectant that combats Leptospirosis. Practicing good sanitation such as washing hands after handling dogs and kennel cleaning is an easy way to reduce the risk of infection.
As with many diseases the earlier treatment is instituted the more successful the outcome. Oldest dogs tend to respond more favorably to treatment than younger dogs. The key to success is treating before signs of organ failure occur. Although it varies from case to case the time of illness from the time of exposure can be anywhere from 3 to 30 days.
Antibiotics are used against the disease since it is bacterial. Penicillin is an effective tool to combat Leptospirosis. Specifically penicillin is used to slow down the leptospire from reproducing in many cases successfully deterring it from entering the bloodstream. Other approaches include administering a second antibiotic in an attempt to clear the organism from the kidney. Intravenous fluid therapy is important to minimize kidney damage. In some cases where dogs show signs of more advanced organ failure hemodialysis may be necessary.
In all cases Nutri-Cal into the animal's diet until full recovery. Nutri-Cal is a calorie supplement that provides extra energy in an easily digested low volume gel. Nutri-Cal can be safely used with animals that are suffering from illness.