|What to Know About Lepto
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that, until recently, was rarely diagnosed in Colorado dogs. Over the past five years, this has changed dramatically. A Colorado State University Diagnostics Laboratory report has shown that 10-22% (varies with serovar) of dogs tested for Leptospirosis were positive over the last 4.5 years. Because there is much cross reactivity in antibody response to the six major serovars, dogs that develop antibodies to one serovar have antibodies to all or most other serovars. The serovar with the highest titer is thought to be the infective agent. The CSU study points to grippotyphosa, icterohemmorrhagiae, and Pomona as being the primary serovars in our area.
Depending on the serovar involved, Leptospirosis causes either acute renal failure (canicola and grippotyphosa) or hepatic disease (icterohemmorrhagiae and Pomona) or both. Meningitis, conjunctivitis, rhinitis and uveitis may also occur in infected dogs.
There are many incidental hosts for Leptospirosis in Colorado wildlife, including mice, raccoons, foxes, skunks, opossums, and voles. In addition, studies have shown increased incidence of L. grippotyphosa in new housing developments. Leptospirosis is in Colorado and, although the incidence may fluctuate from year to year, it is probably here to stay. Please ask your veterinarian to discuss the benefit versus risk of vaccination to limit this disease.
Is My Dog at Risk?
We currently recommend Leptospirosis vaccination for at risk individuals in Boulder. Risk factors include:
- Swimming and jumping into every body of water your dog sees.
- Hiking a lot in the foothills of Boulder where your dog may come across a raccoon litterbox area
- Having regular raccoon visits on your property.
- Having standing water on your property.
- Lepto is a disease with zoonotic potential meaning humans can also become infected. Therefore, we are reccomending that families with toddler age children also have their dogs vaccinated.
How Do I Get My Dog Protected?
We are currently using a 4-way Leptospirosis vaccine which is administered initially in a series of two shots separated 1 month apart. After the initial series annual boosters are recommended to maintain immunity.