Leptospirosis (also known as Lepto) is a complex and contagious bacteria that can infect both humans and animals, and it is found world-wide.
It's complex because there are many different strains of the bacteria, 8 of which can affect dogs and cats.
But, by far dogs and humans are the most affected.
It's believed by historians that there was an outbreak on the East Coast of present day Massachusetts just prior to the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620.
The epidemic wiped out most of the population of the Native Americans in that area.
It wasn't until 1886 that the disease was documented and described by a fella named Adolf Weil. Which is why the infection is also known as Weil's Disease or Weil's Syndrome among others.
. . . Its presence was later discovered in Rats around 1916.
Around the 1980's, there were 2 strains affecting dogs the most (L. icterhaemorrhagiae and L. canicola). In the 1990's there were increased cases of 2 other strains (L. grippotyphosa and L. pomona.
Lepto bacteria thrives in tropical moist areas, and in swamp like conditions with moist soil and moderate temperatures.
It is very contagious and can be transmitted through contact with an infected animals urine, venerealy, or by placenta (from mom to offspring). It can also be contracted through ingestion of an infected animals tissue, or a bite wound from an infected animal.
Because it thrives so well in moist area's, it can also be easily contracted by drinking contaminated water.
The symptoms of infection can very in severity depending on what stage the infection is in. Common symptoms to start with are:
The infection can also affect the liver, the kidneys, and can cause renal failure.
The treatment for Leptospirosis infection is actually rather simple, and 3-part.
First the dog is treated with intravenous fluids and medicine to help control vomiting and counteract dehydration. At the same time, a dog is usually given penicillin to help combat the problems caused in the kidneys and liver.
After getting the initial infection under
control, doxicycline antibiotic is used to rid the body of the rest of
the bacteria and to prevent the dog from becoming a long-term carrier.
There are a lot of different vaccines available for Leptospirosis, but in my opinion they are not good enough. There are just too many strains of the bacteria, and most Lepto vaccines are only good for 6 to 8 months.
Also, the vaccines are chemically inactivated whole cultures (meaning they have been killed) which means they tend to cause adverse vaccine reactions.
You should definitely consult your local veterinarian to determine which strain of Leptospirosis, if any your dog should be vaccinated against.
There are a few vaccines that are necessary and effective, however I feel that dogs are highly over-vaccinated. Just like with people, I believe that prevention by using natural supplements to boost the body's natural defenses (immune system) is the best medicine.
While researching for this website about various dog health topics, I stumbled across a website and company owned by a fella named Gary Le Mon. His company is called Natural Wonder Pets, and he is a very knowledgeable herbalist.
He's certified by the American Naturopathic Medical Certification Board and a member of the American Herbalists Guild. He offers a product called Primalix Immune, and it helps prevent such things as. . .
Don't just take my word for it -- I really urge you
to take a look at his website and read some of the articles there. I
guarantee your eyes will be opened wide just like mine were.