A Quick Bite: What is Lepto?

Leptospira bacteria

A recent unfortunate situation has brought Lepto back to the forefront of our hearts and minds. A long-time client family of Parkway has experienced an unimaginable loss - the passing of their young puppy due to infection from Leptospirosis. Not old enough to receive the recommended vaccination to protect him from this bacterial infection, he tested positive for Rat/Mouse Leptospirosis at Oakland Veterinary Referral Services and despite receiving the best care, he succumbed to the disease. Our deepest condolences to this family.

Percent of positive Leptospirosis tests by county in the USA in 2000–2014. Darker colors indicate a greater proportion of positive tests.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that is caused by the Leptospira bacteria. Humans and animals can become infected through contact with 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. Wild animals that can be carriers of the disease include mice, rats, coyotes, skunks, opossums, rabbits and deer. And we know we have plenty of those critters near the clinic and in the surrounding areas.

Leptospirosis infection can cause kidney and liver issues within 48 hours of infection and potential failure of those necessary systems. If treated early, it increases the chance of recovery and lessens the chance of organ damage. More severe cases may need dialysis, hydration therapy, a feeding tube, or other therapy.

In loving memory of Dante

There are a few ways to help prevent the transmission of this disease to our fuzzy family members. Vaccines against Leptospirosis appear to be very effective in preventing the disease, as long as they are given appropriately. Helping control pest animals in your own backyard is something you can also do. At Parkway, we have offered a vaccine to protect your dog from this deadly disease and we do recommend it for most of the dogs that come in to be treated by us as we believe there is a local risk for it.

We will happily check your pets vaccination records to help ensure that they are protected, and will gladly answer any questions about the disease.

For additional information and more resources on prevention, please see the following links:


American Veterinary Medical Association-Leptospirosis

Science Direct-Hotspots of canine leptospirosis in the United States of America.

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