How to prevent leptospirosis

How to prevent leptospirosis

An ounce of vaccine is worth a pound of antibiotics. Read up on strategies to prevent the disease.

August 25, 2019 By Dan Shock, DVM PhD

Leptospirosis can be life-threatening, so it’s important to focus on strategies to prevent the disease. Keeping your pets away from wildlife and contaminated water is always a good idea. This may be easier said than done though. That’s why vaccination against the lepto bacteria is vital. Your veterinarian can help decide what vaccine option is best for you. The lepto vaccine needs an initial 2-injection series, followed by annual boosters. A proper vaccination schedule ensures your dog’s immunity remains protective against lepto. As the disease is thought to be rarer in cats, there are no licensed lepto vaccines in this species.

All is not lost: Treating lepto

The goal of treatment is to eliminate the lepto bacteria from your pet’s system. Thus, prompt antibiotic therapy is required as soon as your veterinarian suspects the disease. Other supportive care, including treating liver and kidney damage, may also be necessary.

Handle with care: Humans and lepto

Beware: The lepto bacteria can pass from animals to humans, causing serious disease. We call the phenomenon “zoonosis”. If you have a pet diagnosed with or suspected of having lepto:

  • Minimize how much you handle them

  • If you must handle your pet, wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap after you touch them

  • Clean all surfaces (e.g. floors, cages) contaminated by your pet’s bodily fluids using antibacterial solutions

  • Keep your pet away from anyone with a compromised immune system (e.g. young children and elderly)

Pets can shed the bacteria for up to 3 months following infection, so practice caution, and enjoy life with your pet!


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