Posts Tagged: Lepto

Lepto: What is it and how to protect you and your pet


Lepto, which is short for Leptosporosis, is a potentially fatal bacterial infection that can affect humans and animals.    Lepto is commonly found in any water source, soil, and mud.  [Tweet “Lepto is a potentially fatal bacterial infection that can affect humans and animals. “]

Lepto is a common bacterial infection that is spread through the urine of infected animals.   Rats, mice, and other rodents are common carriers of Lepto and are usually the source of infection for dogs.  The urine from infected animals contaminates soil, food or water sources and can survive there for weeks to months.  The bacteria can then infect another animal or human from a cut in the skin, direct contact with eyes, nose or mouth, or from drinking the contaminated water.  Once an animal is infected, they can shed the bacteria in their urine for weeks to years.

Symptoms of Lepto:

Symptoms can appear 4-10 days after being exposed to the bacteria.

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia
  • Jaundice/Icteric mucous membranes
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Some pets have no symptoms at all

Diagnosis of Lepto:

Your veterinarian may be suspicious of Lepto if your dog has any or all of the symptoms listed above and has elevated liver or kidney enzymes.  Diagnosis is confirmed by submitting blood or urine sample to an outside laboratory.  Antibody tests can help confirm your pet’s exposure to Lepto, but a positive PCR test is confirmation that the bacteria is present in your pet’s body.  Dr. Anna Coffin diagnoses several cases each year.  Lepto cases are more common during rainy seasons.

Treatment of Lepto:

Lepto is treatable with antibiotics.  It’s important to treat your pet with the full course of antibiotics (3-4 weeks) to prevent your pet from shedding Lepto in the urine for up to three months.  Many pets need supportive care with hospitalization and intravenous fluids until symptoms subside.  Since Lepto is contagious to people, it is imperative to avoid contact with contaminated urine.

Prevention of Lepto:

  1. It’s important to vaccinate your pet yearly for Lepto in endemic areas.  There areLepto many different strains of Lepto, and the vaccine does not protect against every strain. 
  2. Strict rodent control.
  3. Don’t swim or wade in water that might be contaminated with animal urine.
  4. Wear protective clothing when cleaning urine from infected animals.
  5. Disinfect contaminated surfaces.
  6. Remove stagnant water sources from the environment.

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Dr. Anna was born and raised in Guthrie, Oklahoma. As a teenager, Dr. Anna found her beloved pet dead on the side of the road left to die without any help. That was the moment she decided to become a vet and vowed to help other people and their pets. After a few years of practicing in New Hampshire, Dr. Anna became homesick and decided to return to Guthrie to be with her parents and five other siblings. Family and friends are a major part of our lives which is why we treat our clients at Guthrie Pet Hospital as family.  Dr. Anna and her husband do not have children but are very proud pet parents and, therefore, treat every four-legged friend as part of the family.

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