What is leptospirosis (lepto)?
Lepto is a disease caused by a bacteria called Leptospira interrogans.
It can infect multiple species of mammals,
including humans, dogs, rats, mice, raccoons, skunks, opossums, cows,
and pigs. Leptospirosis is occasionally
diagnosed in dogs in LA County.
What are the symptoms of
In dogs: Symptoms are variable and may
include fever, lethargy,
low appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, yellowed mucus membranes and increased (or decreased) thirst
In humans: Symptoms
are variable and may include fever, severe headache,
and muscle aches. In severe cases, people may have
yellowed mucus membranes, cause kidney damage and respiratory distress.
here to learn more about lepto in people.
How is lepto transmitted?
Infection occurs when the urine of an infected animal contacts the eyes, nose, mouth, or broken skin of another animal or
a person. Exposure to water or mud contaminated with urine may also spread it. In the United States, most human cases of
lepto occur after recreational exposure to contaminated lakes or streams, not from dogs. The bacteria is
shed in the urine
of an infected dog. Therefore a person caring for a dog with
lepto should wear gloves, especially when cleaning up urine.
What is the
treatment for lepto in dogs?
Veterinarians treat infected pets by administering specific antibiotics that can kill the
bacteria. Most dogs with lepto are seriously ill, should be treated in a veterinary hospital.
How can I protect my dog from lepto?
1. Wildlife Control. Do not attract wildlife to your yard
Do not leave your pet's food and water outside at night.
If you have water outdoors for your pet during the day, change your pet's water daily in case it was contaminated by the urine of wild animals.
If you suspect a rat or mouse infestation in your house, consult an exterminator.
2. Consider vaccinating your dog for lepto.
Local data suggest that a variety of Leptospira serotypes (strains) of bacteria may have caused illness in dogs. Therefore
the 4-way vaccines (protecting against 4 strains of the bacteria) are a better choice for protection than the 2-way vaccines.
Reporting Lepto Cases
VETERINARIANS: Report a case of heartworm disease by using
this form or by using the
online reporting portal.
LEPTO DATA - LOS ANGELES COUNTY
Lepto in dogs in LA County
29 cases reported
based on LA County's
leptospirosis case definition for dogs
2014, veterinary diagnostic laboratories
began reporting cases
Modes of exposure
Most cases exposed to
wildlife, or water contaminated by
wildlife, in or near the dog's home
environment (such as
water bowls. fountains, and ponds)
Locations of cases
Areas throughout LA County, no clear geographic pattern
Due to the cost of testing,
may be more likely to be diagnosed in
dogs in higher income areas