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Leptospirosis Alert

Confirmed Leptospirosis Patient at Princeton Animal Hospital!

We found it particularly appropriate to discuss this disease because of the recent weather we have been experiencing over the past few months. The hurricane in particular, adds a different dimension to an increasing risk of Leptospirosis exposure. Interestingly enough, Leptospirosis is the most wide-spread disease in the world, affecting all continents. When we came across another positive patient, we knew it was time to inform our public.

So what is Leptospirosis? Well, since you asked …

It is a bacterial infection (leptospira) contracted from contaminated water sources, i.e.: stagnant ponds, canals, lakes, streams. Primary carriers of the bacteria are raccoons, squirrels, opossums, deer, and foxes. The bacteria are picked up through mucous membranes from the urine of infected animals. Dogs can walk in water, drink it, and lick it off their feet. This disease is zoonotic and is transmissible to humans. The disease primarily affects the kidneys but can also affect the liver. Symptoms include anorexia, lethargy, vomiting, jaundice, fever, increased drinking and urinating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Due to our record-setting rain amounts, plenty of areas are still inundated with exposure possibilities. This exposure could be puddles, streams, and ponds, or even in your yard in flowerpots, buckets, or garbage cans where water accumulates. It does not take much for our dogs to become exposed. Exposure is currently high and we want to make sure that our community is prepared.

We were lucky enough to catch this positive patient early, before any major damage could be done. How did we diagnose it? We found some irregular parameters in our normal, yearly preventative blood profile. Upon further investigation, we discovered the disease. Because of the nature of the Leptospirosis, the patient could have shown little or no symptoms until further along in the disease progression, resulting in severe damage to the kidneys, liver, and the possible transmission to the owners.

Our vaccine is very safe and contains the strains of Leptospirosis we see in New Jersey. Like most vaccinations, the patient will receive two injections when beginning the vaccine series. We will give an initial vaccine and then re-booster in 3-4 weeks. After this, it becomes a yearly vaccine. Please be sure to speak to your veterinarian about the increased risk and any concerns you may have surrounding the disease.

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