Preventing the Spread of Leptospirosis in Decatur
Leptospirosis (also known as “lepto”) is an infection caused by Leptospira bacteria. These bacteria are most often found in puddles, ponds, lakes and streams, in rural areas around farms, and in places that see a lot of wildlife traffic. Leptospirosis is often spread through the urine of deer, raccoons, rodents, farm animals, and of course, infected dogs.
The symptoms of leptospirosis are not necessarily specific, but can include:
- Increased thirst
- Lack of appetite
- Stiffness (due to sore muscles)
How Leptospirosis Infection Occurs
Your pet can become infected with leptospirosis by ingesting the Leptospira bacteria when drinking, or having the bacteria enter their bloodstream through a small scrape/cut on their leg or paw. The bacteria can also enter the body through the mucous membranes in the eyes and nose. Additionally, the more time your pet spends in places where wildlife and other pets frequent, the higher their risk of infection. Infected animals may continue to excrete Leptospira bacteria anywhere from a few months to several years.
How to Protect Your Pet Against Leptospirosis
The best way to keep your dog safe is to have them get the leptospirosis vaccine (which is effective for up to 12 months) and keep them away from standing water and damp soil. Avoid areas that wildlife frequent, especially near farms and heavily wooded places.
If your pet shows any signs of illness after coming into contact with bodies of water, get in touch with our animal hospital as soon as possible. Waiting can result in residual damage to your pet’s liver and/or kidneys. The sooner we diagnose and treat your pet, the better their recovery will be.
Protecting Yourself and Your Family
Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, which means that it can be spread to humans from animals. If you are living with a pet that is currently being treated for leptospirosis, make sure that you:
- Give your pet their veterinarian-prescribed antibiotics as directed
- Steer your pet to isolated or low-traffic areas when they need to urinate so people and other animals do not come into contact with it
- Wear gloves and thoroughly disinfect if your pet has an accident in the house
- Wash your hands after handling/cleaning up after your pet
- Educate the rest of your family about what to do so they can also stay safe