Leptospirosis Outbreak


Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can affect people and animals, including dogs, and it is on the rise. Historically, fewer than 5 cases are identified annually. In a recent outbreak of leptospirosis, 40 dogs in Maricopa County have been diagnosed with leptospirosis during the last year. Most of the infections have been identified in the Scottsdale area, however, new cases are being reported in other cities throughout the valley, including Gilbert, Tempe, Phoenix, Litchfield Park, Fountain Hills, and Avondale, and even in Yavapai, Navajo, and Pima Counties. So far, no humans have been diagnosed in the outbreak.

In Arizona, leptospirosis must be reported to the local/county health department, Arizona Department of Health Services, and Arizona Department of Agriculture.

Transmission

Many types of bacteria can cause the disease, which is spread in the urine of infected animals, including rodents, wildlife, dogs, and livestock. People and dogs can be infected through contact with infected urine. People, dogs, and other animals can also become infected when coming in contact with soil, water, grass, food, or bedding from infected animals up to two months after contamination occurs.

Infected dogs can shed bacteria in their urine up to 6 weeks after treatment with a complete course of antibiotics, or up to 3 months if the dog is not treated with antibiotics or the antibiotics were not finished.

Dogs are at increased risk of infection in areas that are visited by lots of dogs and other animals, including dog parks, dog day care, boarding facilities, veterinary clinics, natural bodies of water such as ponds or rivers, and puddles, increase the risk of transmission. However, even dogs who only go outside in their owner’s yard can be exposed by infected rodents or other small wildlife.

People who work with animals or outdoors might be at increased risk of infection. Recreational activities, especially outdoor water sports, can also put people at increased risk.

Prevention The 4-way leptospirosis vaccine for dogs prevents infection by four of the most common types of leptospirosis-causing bacteria, including the two most likely responsible for the current outbreak.

Because the vaccine cannot protect against all strains, dog owners are encouraged to:

  • Avoid swimming or wading in water that may be contaminated with animal urine, or drinking potentially contaminated water. This includes unchlorinated water, dog parks, daycare or boarding facilities.

  • Avoid contact with rodents and wildlife to reduce exposure to the bacteria.

  • Avoid exposure to urine and urine-contaminated soil, water, grass, food or bedding from infected animals (such as rodents, wildlife, farm animals, and other dogs).

Leptospirosis can be prevented in people by following these recommendations:

  • Wear protective clothing (such as gloves and waterproof shoes) in potentially contaminated areas.

  • Cover any cuts or wounds with waterproof dressings before potential exposure to contaminated infected animals, or contaminated urine or water.

  • Avoid swimming and other recreational activities in water that may be contaminated with animal urine, or drinking potentially contaminated water.

  • Avoid contact with rodents and wildlife to reduce exposure to the bacteria.

  • Avoid exposure to urine and urine-contaminated soil, water, grass, food or bedding from infected animals (such as rodents, wildlife, farm animals, and other dogs). Wash your hands after handling or cleaning up animal waste.

  • People who have depressed immune systems or are pregnant should avoid contact with potentially infected animals.

  • Dog owners, family members, and veterinary or boarding/daycare staff who develop flu-like illness should seek medical care from their doctor and notify their local public health official.

Symptoms In humans, symptoms of leptospirosis infection can appear as soon as 2 days after exposure and as long as 30 days after exposure. People may not show any symptoms at all; most have mild flu-like symptoms, and occasionally, severe illness resulting in liver or kidney damage can occur. Symptoms of leptospirosis in people include fever, headache, chills, severe muscle pain (especially calves and thighs), and red eyes. Rash, yellow eyes and skin, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, and liver and/or kidney damage can also occur.

Symptoms of leptospirosis in dogs can include fever, lack of energy, lack of appetite, red eyes, vomiting, diarrhea, and signs of kidney or liver damage which can include frequent urination, excessive drinking, yellow eyes and skin, decreased urination, or abdominal pain. Some dogs do not show signs of illness or only have mild illness. Leptospirosis infection can be fatal or result in permanent kidney or liver damage.

Very little is known about leptospirosis in cats, but the disease appears to be much less common than in dogs or people and tends to be mild. A report of 3 cats with leptospirosis showed that all three cats were indoor/outdoor, hunted, and lived in areas where contact with cattle and pig urine was possible.

Leptospirosis can often be diagnosed with testing of blood, or urine, but the tests are not completely reliable - they can miss some cases of infection. The tests we have aren’t perfect. Some people who have the disease will still test negative.

Treatment Antibiotics can help decrease the amount of time the bacteria are in the urine which protects other dogs or people from getting infected. Most people and dogs recover from illness, but the disease can cause organ failure or death. Consider treating other dogs in the household with antibiotics since they can be infected without showing any symptoms.

More information https://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/index.html https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Leptospirosis.aspx

#leptospirosis #infectiousdiseases #vaccination #dogs

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Glenfair Veterinary Hospital

5820 N. 59th Ave.

Glendale, AZ 85301

Monday - Tuesday  8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Wednesday               8:00 am - 12:00 pm Thursday - Friday     8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday                    8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Sunday                       Closed

 

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