Image by AJC1 via Flickr

The bacterial disease, Leptospirosis, affects both humans and animals. Infection is spread through the urine of infected animals. The bacteria can survive in the environment (water and soil) for weeks to months and later enter the body via skin (especially when cut), mucous membranes or drinking infected water.

Signs of Lepto in animals include:

  • fever
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • refusal to eat
  • severe weakness and depression
  • stiffness
  • severe muscle pain
  • inability to have puppies

Obviously, the symptoms vary and could easily be mistaken for some other ailment. Age plays a role as younger animals are more susceptible to serious disease. Pets may even be asymptomatic. The disease normally develops within 5 to 14 days but development can extend beyond this time frame or be shorter. Antibiotics are used to treat Lepto. If caught early enough, organ damage may be less severe. Left untreated, Lepto can cause (Source #1):

  • kidney damage
  • meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord),
  • liver failure
  • respiratory distress
  • death

If you’re worried about Leptospirosis transmission to you or your pets, you can visit the CDC’s tips on prevention.


  1. CDC – Leptospirosis
  2. CDC – Lepto Pet Owner Info
VMCAS Deadline Countdown: 6 days

One thought on “Leptospirosis

  1. It’s particularly common in areas overrun with deer (the northern Virginia area, for example), since they tend to be carriers of the bug and drop it in water when they urinate; a dog drinking from so much as an infected puddle is liable to pick up the disease.

    Luckily clinics have started adding it to their standard vaccine queue. The Distemper-Lepto combo vaccine (DHLPP) cuts the cost (and the stress) of multiple-vaccine visits to the vet, although – unlike distemper – the lepto vaccine needs to be updated annually in adult dogs.


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