What is leptospirosis?
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. But if left untreated it can quickly progress to potentially fatal liver or kidney failure.
Even if treated early with antibiotics, infected dogs can shed the bacteria in their urine for months or even years.
Is your dog at risk?
Leptospirosis is transmitted by contact with the urine of infected animals, 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 for years without ever showing any signs of illness.
In truth, virtually any dog that is exercised outdoors is potentially at risk.
Leptospirosis & humans
Leptospirosis is also a ‘zoonotic’ disease, which means it can be transmitted from animals to humans.
It is currently considered to be the most widespread zoonotic disease in the world.
In humans, as in dogs, leptospirosis is a potentially life-threatening disease.
It is therefore critical to prevent your dog from becoming infected and shedding the bacteria in its urine.
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 animal’s urine. So it not only provides immunity for your pet, it also protects 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 rapidly thereafter. The vaccines can be given on their own but are also administered
alongside other routine vaccinations as part of a regular booster regime.
How the disease is changing
Leptospirosis vaccines have been available for over five decades. Until recently, all of them targeted the two most common forms of the bacterium.
However, in recent years, across the UK, Europe and the USA, new varieties of leptospirosis have evolved and in many cases are even more prevalent than the original strains.
For this reason experts have recommended the use of vaccines which target four strains of the disease.
What are the risks of Vaccinating against Leptospirosis?
Fortunately vaccinations are nowadays extremely safe. There is a large body of evidence now that the side effects are rare. The Veterinary Medicines Directorate have recently published side effect rates of 0.079% - that is 79 dogs out of 10000. These side effects include mild malaise which is short-lived. Since Weil's disease kills dogs, we would advise always to take the far smaller risk of feeling a little unwell after a vaccination to potentially dying from the disease.
Check that your dog has been vaccinated against the four most important strains of Leptospirosis!
How to contact us
Shipston Veterinary Centre Ltd
24 West Street
Shipston-on-Stour CV36 4HD
Our consultation times:
8.40 a.m. - 6.00 p.m. Monday to Friday
4.30 p.m. - 5.45 p.m. Monday to Friday
Times are variable.
All consultations at both surgeries are by appointment only
Please note that in emergency out of hours, the same number should be dialled. Listen to the message, then dial 7 to be put through to the Emergency Vet.
News August 2018
Martin decided in 2017 that he wanted to reduce to working a two day week as a prelude to leaving SVC after more than three decades. As of August 2018 he has now left the practice to pursue his other interests of music-making, canoeing and music festival attendance! We wish him very well for the future.
We are delighted to welcome Alex to SVC. Alex qualified in 2017 and has been working in Devon.
Please don't panic about this! Social media has gone a bit wild about it. If you have genuine concerns and would like reassurance, do contact the surgery!
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