New Leptospirosis Threat

19 August 2013

In recent years, accross the UK, Europe and the USA, new varieties of leptospirosis have emerged and in many cases are more prevalent than the original strains.

Leptospirosis is a widespread bacterial disease that affects dogs, wild rodents, and many other species.  In dogs, in its early stages, it is often hard to diagnose.  If left untreated it can progress to potentially fatal liver or kidney failure.

 

Even if successfully treated early with appropriate antibiotics, infected dogs can shed the bacteria in their urine for a considerable period of time.

 Is your dog at risk? 

Leptospirosis is transmitted by contact with the urine of infected animal, either directly or indirectly from a contaminated environment.  A common example might be still or slow moving water contaminated with the urine of infected rodents.  Wild rodents such as rats can carry the disease and shed the bacteria without ever showing signs of illness.  In truth, any dog that is exercised outdoors is potentially at risk.

 

 Leptospirosis and humans. 

Leptospirosis is also a Zoonotic disease which means it can also infect humans.  In humans, as in dogs, leptospirosis is a potentially life threatening disease.  It is therefore important to prevent your dog from becoming infected and shedding the bacteria in its urine to minimise any risk to human health.

 

 Vaccination against leptospirosis 

By far the best way to protect your dog from leptospirosis is to vaccinate.  Vaccination also helps prevent shedding of the bacteria in the urine.  So it not only provides immunity for your pet, it also helps to protect you and your family from potential exposure to the disease.

 

Vaccines against leptospirosis provide immunity from disease for one year, but that immunity is likely to wane thereafter. The vaccines are typically administered as part of a regular booster regime.

New vaccination regime. 

 Due to the emergence of these new varieties of leptospirosis we have decided to alter our vaccination protocol.  When you bring your dog for its booster vaccination we will vaccinate against other common diseases as before (Distemper, Parvovirus, Hepatitis every 3 years) and Leptospirosis every year.  In order to ensure full protection against the new strains of leptospirosis, following the first injection your dog will need a second leptospirosis injection 4 weeks later.  Until July 2014 we will be giving this second injection free of charge and we are doing this to ensure as many dogs as possible are fully protected from this serious disease.  

As always we would recommend concurrent vaccination against infectious tracheobronchitis (kennel cough) as this vaccine will provide protection against Bordetella and Parainfluenza virus.  These can be given on the same day.