Hello friends, welcome back to another day of learning about our pets, the care we need to render to them as well as the infections we need to be careful about, today I will be sharing my knowledge on a really important topic, a topic we must be aware of and protect ourselves and our pets from because it is a zoonotic disease.
Leptospirosis is an infectious disease caused by leptospira bacteria, this bacteria can be found in soil and water worldwide, and different strains of leptospira bac actually cause the disease. It is a zoonotic disease, meaning actually spread from pets to humans and in humans, the disease could create flu-like symptoms, as well as cause kidney or liver disease. It is important to state that direct infection through contact with an infected animal is less common but very possible, the infection is more pronounced through other forms of recreational activities, especially one that involves water. However, an infection spread from an infected animal to humans is still very possible.
The infection is more predominant in regions with warm climates, and annual rainfall but it still can occur in any area even those places where the climate is not warm. The disease literally happens to all mammals, and it has a very wide range of clinical effects, the clinical effects could range from mild, subclinical infection to multiple-organ failure and eventual death. Common carriers of the infection are horses, rats, sheep, goats, dogs, pigs, and cattle, the animals carrying the leptospirosis shed leptospira in their urine for a very long time, dogs and rats are a common source of human infection.
The infection in cats has not been described as being so evident, but with evidence confirmed through serological testing and PCR assay studies, there is proof that cats can get infected with leptospires and can shed organisms, outdoor cats stand a higher chance of getting infected. Cats can significantly contribute to environmental contamination and transmit infection, the clinical signs are similar to those of dogs as well, but most infections are suspected to either be mild or subclinical.
Some infected dogs may not show any obvious sign of illness, but some dogs have a case of transient illness and they recover, while in some other cases, severe illness is gotten and eventual death. Signs of leptospirosis may include; jaundice, fever, weakness to movement, lethargy, tender muscles, increased thirst, dehydration, change in the amount of urine, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and painful inflammation of the eye. The disease can get very complex and create kidney or liver failure. When dogs have it, they may occasionally develop serious lung disease and breathing difficulty, it can also cause bleeding disorders, which can then cause, urine, blood-tinged vomit, nosebleeds, saliva, or stool. Dogs that are affected can also develop swollen legs often from fluid accumulation or the accumulation of excessive fluid in their abdomen or chest.
I mentioned earlier that, leptospirosis can occur through direct contact or even occur indirectly through environmental exposure; It enters into the body through mucous membranes in the mouth, eyes, and nose, or through a water-softened skin, it then multiplies in the host animal's bloodstream, it moves further from the bloodstream to the kidneys and other tissues in order for reproduction to continue, at this point, leptospires further passes from the kidneys into the urine and then it gets shed back into the environment. When this happens, other dogs, wild animals, or humans can get infected either through direct or indirect contact.
It is possible to suspect leptospirosis based on previous exposure, signs, and symptoms shown by the pet, we must as well bear in mind that these symptoms and signs could as well b closely linked with other diseases, so this calls for physical examination from the vet who would recommend other tests to affirm if it is leptospirosis or other infections/diseases, the other tests are; urine test, radiographs (x-rays), blood tests and ultrasound examination.
Leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics and a good supportive care system when the condition is discovered/treated at an early stage, if treated at an early stage properly, there is a great chance of recovery, but there is still a strong possibility of permanent liver damage or residual kidney. The currently available vaccines can adequately prevent leptospirosis as well as protect the dog for as long as 12 months, so annual vaccination is a good recommendation for dogs that are at risk of infection, reducing the chances of your dog's exposure to the possible sources of Leptospirosis, can actively limit chances of infection.
Usually, an infected dog presents a very low chance of infection for you and your family, there is still a higher chance of infection if your dog has been diagnosed with leptospirosis, these precautions would help you protect yourself;
Completely avoid any contact with your dog's urine.
When your dog urinates in the house, clean quickly the area with a good disinfectant, put on gloves in the process, and avoid skin contact with the urine.
Always administer the antibiotics following the prescription from your vet.
Train your pet to urinate away from standing water or those areas where other animals can access it.
Every time you handle your pet, wash your hands afterward.