Leptospirosis

February 2017

AAGI has received several questions regarding the reported leptospirosis cases in Maricopa County and also about the vaccine.

Ariel Cooper, DVM works in the East Valley and owns an AAGI greyhound. She provided us with the information below.  Thanks, Dr. Cooper!

PLEASE NOTE: decisions about vaccination and/or what and where is safe for your dog should be made in consultation with your veterinarian. 

  • Until recently, canine leptospirosis cases in Arizona were considered to be rare and sporadic and had not occurred in outbreak settings.
  • Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection. The bacteria is transmitted through direct contact with urine, water, soil, or contaminated fomites. The bacteria can survive in water or moist soil for weeks to months, and persistently infected dogs can shed the bacteria in urine for months to years.
  • The Leptospirosis vaccine is not considered a core vaccine for dogs, like the DHPP and Rabies vaccines. Rather, it is given to dogs that are considered more “at-risk” for contracting leptospirosis

Dogs at increased risk may include:

  • Outdoor dogs that engage in hiking, wading, and swimming in natural waters
  • Dogs on ranches and farms where there is contact with other animals and animal urine
  • Hunting dogs
  • Dogs that are frequently exposed to areas of flooding
  • Dogs that reside in rural areas or fringe areas where there is potential contact to wildlife or animal urine
  • Dogs that have frequent exposure to other dogs and dog urine such as at dog shows, dog parks, pet boarding facilities, etc.
  • Dogs that travel widely and have contact with other dogs and/or other animals
  • Vaccine reactions (including anaphylaxis), though uncommon, have been linked to the Leptospira vaccine. Anecdotally, small-breed dogs may be at higher risk of reactions. If a dog owner is concerned about possible vaccine reaction, they can talk to their veterinarian about pre-medicating the dog with an injection of diphenhydramine (Benadryl) prior to giving the vaccine.
  • The initial vaccination should be followed by a booster 2-4 weeks later, and the first vaccine be given no earlier than 12 weeks of age. Duration of immunity after initial vaccine series is around 1 year, but can vary from dog to dog.

ALL of this information was accumulated and condensed, with minimal editing, from two sources: The University of California – Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital’s “Canine and Feline Vaccination Guidelines”, and the Arizona Veterinary Medical Association’s “Veterinary Alert: Leptospirosis Outbreak in Dogs in Maricopa County”

The AZ Department of Agriculture, Animal Services Division, Office of the State Veterinarian has a good list of signs to watch for. https://agriculture.az.gov/sites/default/files/Leptospirosis%20alert%20for%20website%20UPDATE%202017%2002%2017.pdf

Dr. Cooper practices at Family Vet Care in Mesa. For more information on Dr. Cooper:   https://www.familyvetcare.com/team-details/dr-ariel-cooper/

February 2017