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Stay informed…..Leptospirosis!

Nov 17th, 2008 by Sue | 0

So you read that word and wonder, “what is that?” or “My dog won’t get that” or even “Is it just one more thing to worry about?”  It seems like there is always something coming up that is the “latest” concern in our dogs health, but being educated is the best way to combat any concerns or risks that we and our pets may face so I thought I would take the opportunity to share some information with you all.

This past week I made stops at several vets offices to visit and share information about MYTDOG, our training and I always take the opportunity to try and learn something.  During this visit I decided to ask about Lepto and whether there had truly been any cases in the Des Moines area.  Its interesting that I got several “no’s” and even some vets and techs that didnt express much concern of it occurring in this area but at 2 vet offices I was told they had had confirmed cases of Lepto in multiple dogs and one human client had even tested positive (YES, humans can get Lepto too!!).  The one office indicated that there was a commonality that the two dogs had been swimming in a pond in Johnston…whether that is truly where it was contracted is unknown but it is always good to be aware.

I have had several differing opinions on whether vaccinating your dog for Leptosirosis is effective or suggested so I recommend assess the exposure risk (see the article below) and you speak with your vet to help you make the right decision.  The important thing to know is that even if you choose to vaccinate, it is NOT 100% protection because there are several strains of the leptosires and your pet may get one that the vaccination does not cover.  However, I have been told that a dog infected can test positive for several of the leptosires and if vaccinated, it may keep the illness from being as severe because it has given them protection from some of the strains.  Again, please talk to your veterinarian and ask them what they suggest you do….THEY ARE THE EXPERTS IN YOUR DOGS HEALTH!!!

The facts below come from the CDC’s (Center for Disease Control) website.  They generally deal with human disease but because Lepto is a disease that can be shared between dogs and humans, they do provide a good bit of information to help you understand the illness.

The important thing is not to fear what can make our dogs ill, but to do all we can to educate ourselves and keep our dogs healthy, active and happy!

Remember, MYTDOG may be your trainer but we are also here to help you be the best owner and partner to your dog so keep you informed of things I learn on my daily MYTDOG outings!  

Take Care,

Sue

check out the CDC’s website at: http://www.cdc.gov

LEPTOSPIROSIS

 

 

 

 

What is leptospirosis?Leptospirosis is a disease is caused by spiral shaped bacteria called leptospires. It occurs worldwide and can affect humans as well as many wild and domestic animals, including dogs and cats. The disease can be serious for both humans and animals. In people, the symptoms are often like the flu, but sometimes leptospirosis can develop into a more severe, life-threatening illness with infections in the kidney, liver, brain, lung, and heart. For more information on leptospirosis in humans, look at the following site: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/DFBMD/diseaseinfo/leptospirosis_g.htm  

Your pet can get leptospirosis too, and although this has not happened often, the disease has been diagnosed more frequently in the past few years. The information given here will show you how to protect yourself and your pets from getting leptospirosis and what to do if your pet does become infected.

How do people and animals get leptospirosis?

The bacteria are spread through the urine of infected animals, which can get into water or soil and can survive there for weeks to months. Humans and animals can become infected through contact with this contaminated urine (or other body fluids, except saliva), water, or soil. The bacteria can enter the body through skin or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth), especially if the skin is broken from a cut or scratch. Drinking contaminated water can also cause infection. Infected wild and domestic animals may continue to excrete the bacteria into the environment continuously or every once in a while for a few months up to several years.

If your pet has become infected, it most likely came into contact with leptospires in the environment or infected animals. Your pet may have been drinking, swimming, or walking through contaminated water. Because of increased building and development into areas that were previously rural, pets may be exposed to more wildlife, such as raccoons, skunks, squirrels, opossums, or deer that are infected with leptospirosis. Dogs also may pass the disease to each other, but this happens very rarely.

What pet animals get leptospirosis?

All animals can potentially become infected with leptospires, although cases of leptospirosis in cats are rare.

What are the signs of leptospirosis in pets?

The clinical signs of leptospirosis vary and are nonspecific. Sometimes pets do not have any symptoms. Common clinical signs reported in dogs include fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, refusal to eat, severe weakness and depression, stiffness, severe muscle pain, or inability to have puppies. Generally younger animals are more seriously affected than older animals.

What should I do if I think my pet has leptospirosis?

Contact your veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian can perform tests to detect the presence of leptospiral antibodies or organism in your pet.

Is there a treatment for leptospirosis in pet animals?

Yes, leptospirosis is treatable with antibiotics. If an animal is treated early, it may recover more rapidly and any organ damage may be less severe. Other treatment methods, such as dialysis and hydration therapy may be required.

The time between exposure to the bacteria and development of disease is usually 5 to 14 days, but can be as short as a few days or as long as 30 days or more.

What should I do if I have been told my pet has leptospirosis?

If your pet has been confirmed by your veterinarian as having leptospirosis, the appropriate action to take will depend on the nature of contact with your pet. Normal daily activities with your pet will not put you at high risk for leptospirosis infection. Types of contacts that are considered to be high risk include direct or indirect contact with urine, blood, and tissues of your pet during its infection. Assisting in the delivery of newborns from an infected animal is also considered a high-risk activity for transmission of leptospirosis.

If you have had these types of high-risk contacts with your pet during the time of its infection, inform your physician. If common symptoms, such as fever, muscle aches, and headaches, occur within 3 weeks after a high-risk exposure, see your physician. Tests can be performed to see if you have this disease.

How can I protect myself and other people when my pet has leptospirosis?

The risk of getting leptospirosis from a dog in standard instances is suspected to be low. The primary mode of transmission of leptospirosis from pets to humans is through direct or indirect contact with contaminated animal tissues, organs, or urine. Always contact your veterinarian and your physician if you have concerns about a possible exposure to an infected animal.

Do not handle or come in contact with urine, blood, or tissues from your infected pet before it has received proper treatment.
 

If you need to have contact with animal tissues or urine, wear protective clothing, such as gloves and boots, especially if you are occupationally at risk (veterinarians, farm workers, and sewer workers).

  As a general rule, always wash your hands after handling your pet or anything that might have your pet’s excrement on it.
  If you are cleaning surfaces that may be contaminated or have urine from an infected pet on them, use an antibacterial cleaning solution or a solution of 1 part household bleach in 10 parts water.
  Make sure that your infected pet takes all of its medicine and follow up with your veterinarian.    

 

How can I prevent leptospirosis in my pet?

Keep rodent problems (rats, mice, or other animal pests) under control. Rodents can carry and spread the bacteria.
 

Get your pet vaccinated against leptospirosis. 
The vaccine does not provide 100% protection. This is because there are many strains (types) of leptospires, and the vaccine does not provide immunity against all strains. It is important to get your pet vaccinated again even if it gets leptospirosis because it can still get infected with a different strain of leptospires.

 

 

 

 

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