Leptospirosis Alert

Here are some general facts reguarding Leptospirosis:

  • Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that causes kidney & liver failure.
  • It is passed to dogs & humans from the urine, saliva, blood, or milk of infected farm animals & wildlife, or from contaminated water.
  • Infected dogs can transmit the disease to humans.
  • We are currently seeing a resurgence of this disease in our area.
  • There are now 168 cases reported in dogs in North Georgia, with a high mortality rate.
  • For years the CDC reported 50 to 100 cases per year nationwide in humans. We now have ten human cases reported in North Georgia alone, including one person who required a kidney transplant. A human death recently occurred in North Carolina.
  • Both dogs and humans in our area are now more likely to die or become seriously ill from Leptospirosis than from Rabies (which is also on the rise).
  • We strongly recommend that all dogs over nine weeks of age be vaccinated against this disease with a vaccine against 4 types of Leptospirosis (not the old two).
  • If the dog has never been vaccinated for Leptospirosis before, an initial vaccination is followed by a booster in 3 to 4 weeks. (Note: If the booster isn’t given within a month, we have to start all over.)  After that, dogs are vaccinated annually.
  • Because there is a higher risk of vaccine reaction in smaller dogs, we recommend that they not receive any other vaccinations at the time of vaccination for Leptospirosis. Separating vaccines greatly reduces the risk of a reaction, & is recommended for dogs weighing less than fifteen pounds.
  • If reactions occur, they usually consist of swollen muzzles & eyes, and/or hives.  Benadryl is often all that is necessary. More severe reactions may require steroid injections. An annoying case of hives or extra trip back to the vet are by far better than the disease.
  • Cost – $20 per vaccination.

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