Max and a few words of warning about "Leptospirosis"

By
Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Suburban

Just a few words about Max and a few words of warning!

 

"Max A Million"This is Max – let’s face it he was huge!  My sister, Joni raised him from a pup and walked him every day rain or shine for a couple miles near their home which is near a great prairie path.  That’s probably where “contact” had been made either in the woods or somewhere on the path.  You never would have known that something bad was about to happen or could happen from walking your dog but it does.  Max picked up “Leptospirosis” or “Lepto” for short and soon had a mystery sickness that baffled his long time veterinarian.   Joni thinks that’s where it was contracted and actually took about 60 days or so to fully incubate and make poor Max really sick.

Max’s symptoms included:  jaundice, grayish coloring to the gums, hypersensitivity of the skin, vomiting clear liquid for no reason, diarrhea and eventually weakness sets in.  Puppies and older dogs seem to be more susceptible and have a low rate of survival.  Yes, that’s a strong word that I chose to use - survival.

This disease is a form of hepatitis and is contagious to humans and other dogs if the infected animals bodily fluids come into contact with you. It can only be spread when it's "wet",  after drying, the bacteria dies and is no longer alive. The disease progresses with muscle deterioration, concentrating on destroying the animals strength.  Advance stages of the disease effect the liver solely, progressing into cirrhosis of the liver and then death.

We do not live in a rural area where you might think our dogs would have contact with something more ‘wild’ but raccoons and opossums are not rare and of course in our back yards everywhere.  We have streetlights, sidewalks and live in regular subdivisions – this is not the boon docks.

If this helps just one person who might read these symptoms or pass this along to someone who’s dog is currently sick I’ve served my purpose.  I’ve never heard of this before and have always been very vigilant where my dog’s health is concerned but this thru us all for a loop.  Poor Max didn’t really have a chance it seems.  If it wasn’t for his excellent health and walking a couple of miles per day, he wouldn’t have lasted as long as he did being a senior.Max & Joni at Xmas

The vet tried but just didn’t try things in the right order in the right amount of time.  Time is not on your dogs side with this disease.  Your dog is probably vaccinated for some of these strains but as we found out probably NOT all of them.  From what I can understand from my vet, there is a “5 pack” of different things that they put into vaccinations.  My dog had been vaccinated for the extra strains of Lepto of which I am grateful. 

Max was a good dog and my sister's best friend.


 

 

 

 

 Leptospirosis in Dogs

 

Leptospirosis is a disease of worldwide significance that infects both animals and humans. The scientific name of the infecting organism is Leptospira interrogans sensu lato. Within this species there are many different strains (serovars). Of these different strains there are eight that are of importance for dogs and cats. These different strains produce different levels and types of disease depending on the animals they infect. While cats can be infected, they rarely show signs of disease. The disease is much more of a problem in dogs, people, and livestock. There are vaccines available, but usually only for one or two of the more common strains. Unfortunately, vaccination against one strain does not protect against the other strains. The current canine vaccines protect against the serovars canicola and icterohaemorrhagiae. These two serovars have been decreasing in total number of infections, but unfortunately, other serovars that infect dogs such as grippotyphosa, pomona, and bratislava have increased.

 

Leptospira Serovars

Primary Host

Dog

Cat

Human

Other Domestic Animals

Wild Animals

Bratislava

Rat, pig, horse

+

_

+

Cow, horse

Mouse, raccoon, opossum, vole, fox, skunk

Autumnalis

Mouse

+

_

+

Cow

Rat, raccoon, opossum

Ictero-
haemorrhagiae

Rat

+

+

+

Cow, horse, pig

Mouse, raccoon, opossum, hedgehog, fox, woodchuck, ape, muskrat, skunk, civet

Pomona

Cow, pig, skunk, opossum

+

+

+

Horse, sheep, goat, rabbit

Mouse, raccoon, hedgehog, wolf, fox, woodchuck, deer

Canicola

Dog

+

+

+

Cow, horse, pig

Rat, raccoon, hedgehog, armadillo, mongoose, skunk

Bataviae

Dog, rat, mouse

+

+

+

Cow

Hedgehog, armadillo, vole, shrew,

Hardjo

Cow

+

-

+

Pig, horse, sheep

Wild bovidae

Grippotyphosa

Vole, raccoon, skunk, opossum

+

+

+

Cow, pig, sheep, goat, rabbit, gerbil

Mouse, rat, fox, squirrel, bobcat, shrew, hedgehog, muskrat, weasel

Transmission

Leptospirosis is transmitted between animals through contact with infected urine; venereal and placental transfer; bite wounds; or the ingestion of infected tissue. Crowding, as found in a kennel, can increase the spread of infection. Indirect transmission occurs through exposure of susceptible animals to contaminated water sources, food, or even bedding. Stagnant or slow moving water provides a suitable habitat for Leptospira. As a result, disease outbreaks often increase during periods of flooding. In dry areas infections are more common around water sources.

Freezing greatly reduces the survival of the organism in the environment. This explains why infections are more common in summer and fall and why the infection is more prevalent in temperate areas.

Infection

Leptospira bacteria penetrate mucous membranes or abraded skin and multiply rapidly upon entering the blood system. From there they spread to other tissues including the kidneys, liver, spleen, nervous system, eyes, and genital tract. As the body fights the infection, the organism is cleared from most organs, but they may persist in the kidneys and be shed for weeks or months in the urine. The amount of damage done to the internal organs is variable depending on the serovar and the host it infects. After 7 or 8 days of infection, the animal will begin to recover, if the damage to the kidneys or liver is not too severe.

Infections in dogs with the serovars canicola and grippotyphosa have been associated with kidney infections with minimal liver involvement. Whereas, the serovars pomona and icterohaemorrhagiae produce liver disease. Dogs younger than 6 months tend to develop more cases of liver disease regardless of the serovar.

Symptoms

In acute infections, a fever of 103-104°, shivering, and muscle tenderness are the first signs.

In acute infections a fever of 103-104°, shivering, and muscle tenderness are the first signs. Then vomiting and rapid dehydration may develop. Severely infected dogs may develop hypothermia and become depressed and die before kidney or liver failure has a chance to develop.

In subacute infections, the animal usually develops a fever, anorexia, vomiting, dehydration, and increased thirst. The dog may be reluctant to move due to muscle or kidney pain. Animals with liver involvement may develop icterus. Dogs that develop kidney or liver involvement may begin to show improvement in organ function after 2 to 3 weeks or they may develop chronic renal failure. Despite the possibility of severe infection and death, the majority of leptospiral infections in dogs are chronic or subclinical. Dogs that become chronically infected may show no outward signs, but may intermittently shed bacteria in the urine for months or years.

Diagnosis

A positive diagnosis can be made through a blood test. A blood sample of the suspected animal is drawn and sent into the laboratory where a microscopic agglutination test is performed. This can test for individual serovars (strains) and the level of antibody (titer) against these strains. Depending on the level of the titer, a positive diagnosis to the specific serovar can be made. Titers may be negative in the first 10 days after initial infection, so many times additional samples must be drawn and tested to get a positive diagnosis. Previous vaccination can give an elevated titer and this must be taken into consideration when interpreting the titers.

Acutely infected or chronically infected dogs will most likely be shedding Leptospira organisms in their urine. It is possible to culture a urine sample and get a positive diagnosis. However, because of intermittent shedding and bacterial contamination this is not always the best way to diagnose the disease.

Treatment

Treatment consists of antibiotics, fluid replacement, and controlling the vomiting and the problems associated with the corresponding kidney or liver infections. Penicillin, or one of its derivatives is the antibiotic of choice for treating the initial infection. After the initial infection is controlled, doxycycline is often used to cure and prevent a potential long-term carrier state. Intravenous or subcutaneous fluids are often given to correct dehydration while the corresponding liver or kidney problems are treated.

Vaccination and Prevention

Prevention involves keeping animals out of contact with potential sources of infection including contaminated water sources, wildlife reservoirs, or domestic animals that are infected or chronic carriers. Humans can contract leptospirosis and any potentially infected animal should be handled very carefully to avoid human exposure.

There are currently many different vaccines available on the market for a wide variety of species and serovars. The ones currently available for dogs are chemically inactivated (killed) whole culture vaccine, which unfortunately, make them much more likely to cause vaccine reactions as opposed to most viral vaccines. Leptospiral vaccines are blamed for many of the vaccine reactions we see in dogs. Until the beginning of the year 2000, leptospiral vaccines only protected against L. canicola and L. icterohaemorrhagiae. A new vaccine by Fort Dodge now also protects against the serovars L. grippotyphosa and L. pomona. Due to the low infection rate in cats, there are currently no vaccines available for them.

Leptospiral vaccines for dogs offer about 6 to 8 months of protection. Dogs that are at high risk of contracting Leptospiral infections should be vaccinated twice a year. Vaccine manufacturers generally recommend that puppies less than 8 weeks of age should not be vaccinated with vaccines containing Leptospira. Many veterinarians recommend waiting until 12-16 weeks of age for the first vaccination against Leptospira. If Leptospiral vaccines are used, the animal should receive two to three doses of the vaccine spaced several weeks apart. Be sure to follow the recommendations of the vaccine manufacturer and your veterinarian. Because of the lack of cross protection between strains, the high incidence of reactions, and the need for frequent vaccination many veterinarians have begun to recommend leptospiral vaccinations only for those dogs at higher risk. Because this can potentially be a very serious disease, I recommend that all pet owners consult with their local veterinarian to determine if leptospiral vaccination is necessary for their pet.

 

References and Further Reading:      Ettinger, S. Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine. W.B. Saunders Co. Philadelphia, PA; 1989 and Greene, C. Infectious Diseases of the Dog and Cat. W.B. Saunders Co. Philadelphia, PA; 1998

 

 

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Rainmaker
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William Feela
WHISPERING PINES REALTY - North Branch, MN
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

Lyn...Interesting blog.  I know that there are a host of things that can be transferred to our pets.  Being I live in the country, keeping varmits,large and small, under control is a constant battle.

Aug 15, 2008 04:43 AM #1
Rainmaker
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Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

Thanks Bill for the comment.  Never heard of this before until my sister's dog became sick.  Never knew about a raccoon or oppossum being able to give a dog anything.  Just wanted to pass the info along so others can be aware.

Aug 15, 2008 07:11 AM #2
Ambassador
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Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

This is good to know about.  I am so sorry about your sister's dog.  But this post may end up saving another animal's life.

Aug 15, 2008 11:16 AM #3
Rainmaker
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Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

Thank you Chris, my purpose was to make everyone aware of this as I think it has somehow slipped under the radar.

Aug 15, 2008 01:17 PM #4
Rainer
1,334
Meegan Ehrlich, REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker Real Estate - Lantana, FL

Lyn, my heart goes out to your sister Joni. Watching our babies taken by something unknown where we are helpless is heartbreaking. I am glad she had many years of love and enjoyment with him.

 

Aug 16, 2008 01:27 AM #5
Rainmaker
1,579,466
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

Thank you Meegan for your kind words.

Aug 16, 2008 02:40 AM #6
Rainer
26,542
Rick Maday
Owl Home Inspections, Inc. - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg Home Inspector -

Lyn,

Thanks for the info.  My sympathies for your sister.  Having to part with one of the family (they're not just pets, as you know) is one of the hardest things to do.

Aug 16, 2008 03:46 AM #7
Rainmaker
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Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

Rick:  Just wanted to be sure that people knew about it & that it can happen in our area(Schaumburg, etc.) not just out in the country.

Aug 16, 2008 07:11 AM #8
Rainmaker
1,317,651
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

I was not aware of this disease or how devasting it can be.  I thank you for hsaring this information.  It sounds like early treatment may make a signifanct difference.

Aug 16, 2008 12:32 PM #9
Rainer
302,425
Terry Haugen STAGE it RIGHT! 321-956-2495
Stage it Right! - Melbourne, FL

Thanks for the information Lyn.  I learned years and years ago, that pregnant women should not clean cat litter boxes, or do gardening if there is a possiblity that roaming cats may have used the area as a littler box, simply because of the possibility of catching this disease.  Sorry Max had to be the teacher for all of us, but hopefully people will read your post and get educated.

Aug 16, 2008 12:56 PM #10
Rainmaker
1,579,466
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

Joan & Terry:  Just wanted to make as many people aware as possible in case their dog get sick.  Spread the word if you can.  Thanks for stopping by.

Comment from my sister Joni:  There were alot of kind words which I appreciate and like you said, making people aware of something like this is really important, wish I would have known about it sooner for Max's sake, for sure I would have gotten him the booster.

Aug 18, 2008 12:42 AM #11
Rainer
56,130
-- Casey Brischle
Columbia Bank - Spokane, WA
Spokane Home Loan Mortgage Professional

I have never heard of this.  Thank you for posting and bringin awaeness to it.  I wonder if there is any work being done to develop a vaccine for it.

Aug 18, 2008 08:14 AM #12
Rainmaker
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Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

Casey:  I guess there are alot of different strains as mentioned above in the medical part. It is important to do a test to be sure your dog is getting treated by the correct antibiotic for that particular strain.  Max had the "grippotyphosa strain" probably from a raccoon.  When you getting your dog vaccinated it is important to know which strains your dog is being vaccinated with just for this reason.

Aug 18, 2008 08:33 AM #13
Rainer
226,765
Richard Ives
Chicago, IL

Lyn thanks for sharing.  This is something that every pet owner should be aware of.  My sympathies to your family on the loss of Max.

Oct 24, 2008 08:00 AM #14
Rainmaker
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Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

Diane:  This is forwarded from my sister.

Diane, it would be more beneficial to be on that doxicycline and to skip the amoxicilian. That doxicycline really made a difference in Max.

Any liquids from the body can be transmitted to another dog and people too, like saliva, vomit or urine. (Sharing a water bowl?) I think there was a 2 week time frame were it can be contagious, even wash the bedding too, they seem to loose control of their bladder and then it's transferred to others. If I were to go thru this again, I would take my animal to have a ultra sound done to see exactly how much damage is done to both the kidney's and liver. (No damage to Max's kidneys, but the disease attacked his liver primarily. You at least have 2 kidneys, but only 1 liver.) The doxicycline is really hard on the stomach but very effective. This disease also attacks muscles and there will be weight and strength loss.

Good luck Diane, hope things turn out for the pups. It does sound like you caught it in time.

Oct 27, 2008 02:52 AM #16
Rainer
136,482
Gayle Balaban
The Best Spot Realty/Waterfront Real Estate/Ooltewah Real E - Chattanooga, TN
E. TN Waterfront Real Estate

Lepto is one of the curses of the dog world right along with parvo.  Unfortunately we have to be hypervigilant to avoid it for our dogs; a bird bath left out, an old tarp traapping little puddles of wter, even recesses in the concrete can hold enough stagnant water to transfer this horrible disease. I have seen skunks, raccoons etc. run throught the neighborhood at night.  No one is immune!

Oct 27, 2008 10:39 AM #17
Rainmaker
1,579,466
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

Gayle:  Thanks for your comment. I guess it is actually more prevalent than the parvo now.  It seems to be more widespread now.

Richard:  Thanks for reading.

Oct 27, 2008 11:15 AM #18
Anonymous
Joni

Dogs can get Lipto just walking threw the grass, lick their paws and injest it. Eating the grass is another way also. As long as the Lipto is in a "wet" stage it's active. My dog contracted it from the grass in the morning from opposums. There is no standing water of any kind on my property.

Oct 28, 2008 12:51 AM #19
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