Leptospira is a fatal bacterial disease that affects humans and animals, especially cats and dogs. It is caused by the leptospiral bacterium. The symptoms of the disease vary from organism to organism. Without appropriate treatment, Leptospirosis can lead to organ damage including kidney failure, meningitis, liver failure, respiratory distress, and ultimately death.
The bacterium is spread through the urine of infected animals. The bacterium can survive in contaminated water and soil for several months. Many different domestic and wild animals carry the bacterium including pigs, cattle, horses, dogs, rodents, and wild animals. Infected animals continue to contaminate the environment and become a risk for healthy organisms.
The bacterium can enter the body through the skin, mucous membranes (nose, eyes or mouth), or any cut or scratch. Outbreaks, such as floods, also serve as a source for disease transmission. Drinking contaminated water also causes infection.
Signs and Symptoms
In animals, Leptospirosis can cause a variety of symptoms including:
· High fever
· Severe headache
· Muscle fatigue
· Yellow sclera and skin
· Abdominal pain
In some cases, the affected animal may be asymptomatic. Leptospirosis usually occurs in two phases:
1. The first phase is characterized by fever, chills, body weakness, muscle cramps, vomiting, or diarrhea. The patient usually recovers in a short time.
2. The second phase is more severe and leads to organ damage.
The illness usually lasts for 2-3 weeks or longer.
Risk of Exposure
Leptospirosis can occur anywhere in the world but it is more common in tropical and temperate climates. It is an occupational hazard for outdoor workers including:
· People who work in slaughterhouses
· Veterinarians and animal caretakers
· Fish workers
· Dairy farmers
· Military personnel’s
Sports that put you at risk of Leptospirosis
There are some sports that increase the risk of athletes to catch the infection. These include:
It is a recreational hazard for campers who participate in outdoor sports activities. The risk is even greater in tropical and temperate climates.
Why is Leptospirosis Common in Swimmers?
Sometimes the sea or river water gets contaminated with the infection by urine or other body fluids. When athletes swim in such infected water, they can catch the disease.
Diagnostic Tests for Leptospirosis:
Leptospira IgM Test Kit
The kit is based on the principle of antigen-antibody complex formation. The immunoglobulin M antibodies present in the kit immediately react with the leptospira antigen (if present) in the blood sample. The Leptospira IgM test kit can easily be used at home and requires little or no technical assistance. You can buy a Leptospira IgM test kit from a nearby veterinary office.
A Veterinarian may prescribe blood or urine test to diagnose the disease.
Treatment of Leptospirosis in Dogs
Currently, Leptospirosis is treated with antibiotics such as penicillin or doxycycline. The treatment must be started immediately after the diagnosis of the disease. Intravenous antibiotics are prescribed for patients with severe symptoms.
If you suspect that your dog has caught the infection, you should immediately visit your nearby Veterinary office or animal care center.