Leptospirosis is a rare bacterial infection spread by infected rodent urine. The Health Department investigates about 15 cases of leptospirosis-infected dogs in New York City every year.
Someone stealing your Leptospirosis? They might be a (K)leptomaniac.
Okay, now that we’re all warmed up – can you protect your dog from this infection, and should you be concerned? Yes, and probably not. There is a vaccine for Leptospirosis, and we offer it at both of our hospitals. Like our other “lifestyle” vaccines, (canine influenza, lyme) it involves two initial vaccines 2-3 weeks apart and is boosted yearly.
But is your dog at risk? The class of Leptospira bacterium which cause this infection can be spread by ingestion or through the mucous membranes. Ask yourself – “does my dog frequently go swimming, drink from puddles, or walk through water in areas heavily populated by rodents?” If you answered “yes”, we may recommend vaccinating against Leptospirosis.
Here’s the good news: Leptospirosis is still quite rare, and is treatable if caught in the early stages.
Here’s the less than good news: Leptospirosis is zoonotic, meaning it can be spread to humans from dogs in a rare percent of cases. And if not caught in the early stages, Leptospirosis can cause liver or kidney failure.
How can you keep your dog safe? If you decide not to vaccinate, make a strong effort to keep your home free of rodents and don’t let your dog come into contact with them outside of the house. Stay aware of where your dog walks and don’t let him drink from water that a rodent may have infected.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s health, call us at 212-924-6116.
For more information on this infection, check out the CDC site at https://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/infection/index.html
Written by Lauren Gamiel, Veterinary Assistant