1.) What is it?
Leptospirosis commonly referred to as “Lepto”, is a bacterial infection that has recently affected and killed several dogs in the Northern New Jersey and New York area. Lepto comes from the urine of rodents, like rats and squirrels, and is spread through contact with the mouth, eyes, or an open wound. The most common way that this infection is being spread is through dogs drinking from puddles or water sources that the rodents’ urine comes into contact with.
2.) Lepto is Zoonotic:
Lepto is a zoonotic disease which means that it can be spread from animals to humans. Although this is not a common occurrence due to the ways that Lepto is transmitted, it is important to know because Lepto can be a very serious issue if it is transmitted.
3.) Signs & Symptoms:
If left untreated, Lepto can cause serious liver and kidney damage, as well as death. This is why it is important to keep an eye out for some of the warning signs. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), some of the signs and symptoms that are associated with Lepto are:
- Muscle Tenderness
- Increased Thirst
- A Lack of Energy
- Jaundice (Yellowing of skin and mucous membranes)
4.) Treatment Options:
As of right now, antibiotics are being prescribed by veterinarians to treat Lepto. However, like any illness, and early detection is crucial in order to obtain the best possible results. Annual vaccines are also a being used to prevent dogs from being infected. There is no guarantee that the vaccine will prevent the illness, similar to flu vaccinations for humans, but it does greatly lower the chances of infection.
5.) Precautionary Steps:
Some recommended steps to prevent Lepto contraction and its spreading are:
- Avoid contact with your dog’s urine. If you need clean up your dog’s urine, use rubber gloves to avoid direct contact.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after handling your pet
- Get your dog vaccinated
- Carry clean water for your pets to drink while outside
- Keep an eye on your dog while outside to make sure they are not drinking from puddles, especially after it rains.
- Take care of any existing rodent problems you may have
Leptospirosis is not a new issue that veterinarians have never seen. It is however very unusual for the infection to be spreading during the winter and not during the warmer months of the year. Keeping these 5 things in mind can only help in protecting you, your family and your dog from Leptospirosis.