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Some Good words to

the wise concerning

Canine Leptospirosis

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Preventing Infection of Leptospirosis in Dogs
By: Tippy

Leptospirosis in dogs is a zoonotic disease that can transfer from
dog to human and vice versa. It effects are seen all over
the world. Leptospira interrogans sensu lato is the
scientific name for this organism. There are many different
strains of this disease and it can infect more than humans
and dogs. Cats, Cows and other livestock can be affected by
this disease.

The indicating factor as to whether or not the infection
will cause a serious reaction usually depends upon what
strain of the disease is infecting. If you vaccinate against
one form of Leptospirosis it will not necessarily protect
you from the other strains of the disease. The current
vaccine only protects against two different strains of the
disease, serovars canicola and icterohaemorrhagiae. But the
other strains of the disease, like grippotyphosa, pomona,
and bratislava, are on the rise in the canine population.

Leptospirosis can infect animals and humans through contact
with infected urine, bite wounds, venereal and placental
transfer or by eating infected tissue. Contaminated water,
food or bedding can be a secondary source of infection. In
crowded places like kennels and pounds the risk of infection
goes up dramatically.

The Leptospira organisms can live in stagnant water, so
animals are more likely to be in infected after flooding or
in a dry area around standing water. The organism does not
survive well after being frozen; however, that is why
infections from this organism are usually seen in the summer
and not in the winter.

The bacteria infect a host through abraded skin and begin to
multiply rapidly, infecting most all tissue and organs in
the body and making the animal very sick. Once the body
systems begin to fight the infection the bacteria is forced
from the organs but usually it will reside in the kidneys
for a while till completely destroyed. It is the progress of
the disease in the first few days, depending upon the host
and the strain of bacteria, which determines whether or not
the host will live. Leptospirosis damages the liver and the
kidneys and this damage may kill the host animal.

The host animal will develop a high fever of around 103 -
104 degrees Fahrenheit. Muscle tenderness and shivering are
the most common symptoms aside from fever. With an acute
infection vomiting and rapid dehydration can occur along
with all of the other symptoms. Dogs that become severely
infected with Leptospirosis usually develop depression and
hypothermia and die before liver failure or kidney failure

Diagnosing Leptospirosis is through a blood test looking for
that particular strain of bacteria. Treatment includes
antibiotics and controlling vomiting and fluid replacement.
Treatment of the liver and kidneys may be necessary as well
to prevent liver or kidney failure. The antibiotic
doxycycline is commonly used to clear the animal of any
lasting infection in the kidneys after the initial infection
is under control.

To prevent infection you should never let your dog drink
from standing water or potentially contaminated water. If
you have a young dog you should be especially vigilant about
this as Leptospirosis can be especially deadly to pups. Be
sure to get your dog vaccinated against the more common
strains of this disease and keep those vaccinations up to date.

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