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Leptospirosis

Image of a paper that says "leptosporosis".

Leptospirosis is a serious, life-threatening disease caused by a spiral shaped bacteria. Dogs, cats, other animals and even people can be infected through exposure to urine, bite wounds, ingestion of infected flesh, or contact with contaminated soil, water and even bedding. Certain environmental conditions can favor the bacteria: standing water, rain, floods and warm moist weather. Pets living under these conditions, especially those who live primarily outdoors or are used for activities like hunting or herding are at a higher risk of being infected. The bacteria can quickly spread through the body causing symptoms like fever, joint pain, excessive drinking and general malaise. Eventually the bacteria settle in the kidneys or liver where it rapidly multiplies leading to organ inflammation, organ failure and possibly death.

People infected with Leptospirosis show the same symptoms as pets: fever, joint pain, excessive drinking and general malaise. Most often people contract the disease when their mucous membranes or open wounds come into contact with the urine or other bodily fluids of an infected animal.

Repeated blood tests 2 to 4 weeks apart are recommended for diagnosis. This test detects the presence of antibodies the body produces after being exposed to the disease. Recent vaccination against leptospirosis can make diagnosis difficult as vaccines stimulate the body to create similar antibodies. New technology has made rapid tests available and sometimes urine can be used although this test is less sensitive. Samples of kidney tissue can be used but this is rarely done due to the need of an invasive procedure.

Fortunately, leptospirosis can be treated with a combination of antibiotics. If kidney function becomes seriously impaired, patients may need kidney dialysis; some patients need this only temporarily while others will need it for life.

Supportive care is crucial for pets that become extremely debilitated by the disease. Intravenous fluids help maintain blood flow through the damaged organs. Special precautions should be observed when cleaning up any urine or bodily fluids from an infected patient.

Leptospirosis is a zoonzotic disease and vaccinations are available. Unfortunately the leptospirosis vaccine has been linked to a high level of vaccine reactions and while reducing the severity of a dog's illness will not prevent them from becoming carriers of the disease. Therefore this vaccine is given only when deemed necessary after consultation with your veterinarian.

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Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "We've followed Dr.Trefz from his former hospital in Clearwater because we were unable to find a vet that could live up to the high standards Dr.Trefz and his staff provided to our 4-legged family members. The compassion and love shown to us when we lost our best friends to their Heavenly home was such a blessing. Dr. Trefz and his staff are exceptional professionals, friends and great human beings. The 30 minute drive from Clearwater is well worth it for the wonderful care our sweet boy Hunter receives. Love Dr. Trefz and staff!"
    Diana B. - Clearwater, FL
  • "Dr. Trefz is the best Vet Doc we have ever had for our dear Katie. He is so caring and really takes an interest in you and your "baby." Dr. Trefz will actually call to check-up on your animal. The entire staff is truly amazing."
    Sandy G.
  • "We drive over an hour one way to bring our 11 year old Bengal, Sumo, to Dr Trevz. He was Sumos original vet, but when he left the Clearwater practice we "lost him" for a bit. We took a very sick Sumo to Dr Trevz& his staff. We were ready to be told to put him down. But one by one, Dr T tackles his infections and issues...and we almost have him back to perfect health' we are grateful beyond words for the caring and expertise of Dr T & his staff!"
    Samantha