A disease called Leptospirosis started to become a serious problem in our area several years ago and is a continuing health risk this Spring. The incidence of this disease has been steadily rising at various times of year. We are concerned about its appearance recurring now because the conditions are ideal, and we have already seen one case this month. Melting snow forming huge puddles of water in our yards combined with wild mammals appearing with the warmer Spring weather make this the “perfect storm” for Leptospirosis.
Leptospirosis is a bacteria that is spread in the urine of wild mammals such as raccoons, skunks, rats, mice, moles, opossums, etc. In a recent seminar on Leptospirosis a speaker indicated that in the northeast 33% of raccoons and 15% of skunks show exposure to Leptospirosis types that infect dogs. These animals may urinate in your area at night and when dogs smell an unusual odor, they often lick the area, especially from puddles or stagnant water sources. This allows the bacteria to enter their systems. Bacteria can also infect through unbroken skin. Most cases occur in the late Summer or Fall in the Northeast, however, this year conditions are favorable in Spring as well. Lethargy, loss of appetite, depression, and vomiting are the most common signs. Some dogs develop life threatening disease in a very short time and require hospitalization and very aggressive therapy. Not all dogs survive. Cats can also be infected, but such cases are relatively rare and there is no vaccine for cats as there is for dogs. The infection also infects people.
The best protection is prevention, and there is a Leptospirosis vaccine for dogs. If your dog is not vaccinated, please call our office today to schedule an appointment with a doctor. Protect you and your dog from the heartbreak and expense of this dreadful disease.
For more information regarding Leptospirosis, please refer to the following links:
From the Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/
From the American Animal Hospital Association: http://secure.aahanet.org/eweb/dynamicpage.aspx?site=petsmatter&webcode=pmcontent&id=PMV2I3&article=fad86886-4aea-4fd0-8cb2-4d1c77098e59
From an article in The Record: http://www.northjersey.com/community-news/pets/a-disease-from-contaminated-water-1.1046673