This FYI is not meant to scare you, but to make you aware of a growing disease that can affect humans and animals. It can be carried in the urine of other animals and inhaled by your dog. It is also transferrable to humans. All dogs in training should be kept current, and we are advising all graduate teams to maintain the annual vaccine also. “Lepto” is making its way across all states, especially those which have warmer climates or where your dog may be exposed to wildlife. Please consult with your personal Vet to make sure your dog has been vaccinated.
The bacteria that cause Leptospirosis 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 the bacteria in the environment or was exposed to 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.
These can include, but are not limited to:
• Wild animals
When these animals are infected, they may have no symptoms of the disease.
Infected 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.
Humans can become infected through:
• contact with urine (or other body fluids, except saliva) from infected animals
• contact with water, soil, or food contaminated with the urine of infected animals.
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. Outbreaks of leptospirosis are usually caused by exposure to contaminated water, such as floodwaters. Person to person transmission is rare.
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.