LEPTOSPIROSIS Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that is endemic (persistently present at a low level) in the Northeast and other parts of the country. Wild animals serve as reservoirs of infection; backyard wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, squirrels, voles, other rodents, and possibly larger mammals such as deer and foxes shed the Leptospira organisms primarily in their urine. The bacteria survive best in damp areas such as ponds, puddles, streams and marshes, and the incidence is highest in the late summer and early fall, particularly after periods of heavy rain. Direct transmission from infected dogs is also possible. This is a zoonotic disease - people can get it.
Kidney and liver problems are the most common syndromes when a dog becomes infected with Leptospira, but many other illnesses are possible. Symptoms, therefore, can be just about anything, but are most commonly very general, such as loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea. Leptospirosis is not often fatal, but does often require intensive care, and many dogs that recover are left with long term liver or kidney problems.
There is a vaccine that can be given to dogs to try to prevent Leptospirosis. There are several strains of Leptospira bacteria and the vaccine protects dogs from the four most common ones, so it is still possible for a vaccinated dog to contract the illness. We recommend vaccinating dogs who have an active outdoor lifestyle, especially if they frequent wet or damp areas. Adverse vaccine reactions are rare, but when they do occur it usually involves young puppies. We prefer to wait until dogs are at least four months old to vaccinate them, but if a younger puppy is going to be at significant risk, then it is better to vaccinate than not vaccinate.
Leptospirosis is an uncommon illness, but is present in the greater Yarmouth-Portland-Brunswick area; YVC and the other veterinary practices that service this area diagnose cases regularly. It is a serious illness for the canine patient, and it is transmissable to people. For all these reasons, WE ADVISE VACCINATING MOST DOGS FOR PROTECTION AGAINST LEPTOSPIROSIS. IF YOUR DOG HAS ANY CONTACT WITH DAMP OR WET AREAS, CONTACT WITH AREAS FREQUENTED BY WILDLIFE,
OR IS OCCASIONALLY IN A MULTIPLE DOG ENVIRONMENT, SUCH AS BOARDING, DAYCARE, TRAINING, DOG PARKS, ETC. PLEASE CONSIDER GETTING THIS IMPORTANT VACCINE.