There is information being spread about Leptospirosis cases in our area. I wish for you to have the information I feel is pertinent to making decisions about the disease and vaccination against it. The following is information you should read to decide if you wish to have this vaccine administered to your pet. Please ask for this service if desired.
Leptospirosis (Lepto) is a bacterial disease in humans and animals. The disease incidence varies from area to area around the world.
Washington state has a low incidence of this disease although there have been recent cases. Leptospirosis is transmitted between animals through contact with infected urine; venereal and placental transfer; bite wounds; or the ingestion of infected tissue. Typically we think of the disease being spread by small furry animals such as rodents and raccoons but some forms (serovars) of Lepto can be spread through livestock such as horses and cattle. 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.
Leptospirosis can cause significant illness and even death to humans and dogs. It can cause kidney failure and/or liver disease which may require days to weeks of hospitalization. Since it is a bacterial infection, it can be treated if caught early enough. However, diagnosis of the disease can be difficult and time consuming. If your pet becomes infected, there is greater risk of infection for you and other people and dogs he/she comes in contact with. Cats seem to be more resistant to infection with Lepto.
Although occurrence of Leptospirosis is still uncommon, the incidence is on the rise. There have been several cases on
Vashon Island where a new housing development encroached upon previous undeveloped areas. The serovar involved was of Autumnalis, which is one there is no vaccine for. Reported Lepto infections of all other types in
Washington remain rare for dogs, usually less than 10 per year. In our area, I am aware of only one dog that was recently diagnosed and treated for Leptospirosis, the Canicola serovar. This is a serovar we can (and used to) vaccinate against. I will update information on any local case as/if I learn of them.
In the past, two serovars of Lepto were commonly included in combination vaccinations. In more recent years vaccines have become available against four Lepto serovars and are available as a product separated from other disease we vaccinate against.
Vaccine reactions are possible with any vaccination and may include facial swelling/edema and/or hives. This type of reaction may occur within minutes to hours of vaccination. I have found dachshunds and boxers to have a higher rate of this sort of reaction. More severe reactions are possible including sudden onset anaphylaxis and even death. Some animals may have another kind of immune response which may be more delayed occurring in the weeks after vaccination. The immune response may lead to destruction of red blood cells and/or platelets which may quickly become life threatening. In my experience smaller dogs, particularly white dogs have vaccine reactions at a higher rate than larger, nonwhite dogs. If a vaccine reaction occurs, medical expenses likely will occur and are the responsibility of the pet owner.
If you choose to have your dog vaccinated, we will use a vaccine made by Zoetis that contains 4 Lepto serovars. We recommend 2 vaccinations 3-4 weeks apart. The immunity derived from these 2 vaccinations may only last for 6 months although the vaccine product is licensed for 1 year revaccination. The protection offered will vary with each individual pet. Pfizer offers a warranty on diagnosis and treatment costs incurred for dogs for up to 1 year after appropriate vaccination if a pet is diagnosed with Leptospirosis.
To reiterate, we have this vaccine available, but do not require it. We will not use this vaccine in puppies less than 12 weeks old. We prefer to administer this vaccine on a date when no other vaccines are administered. Please come for your next visit with a decision on whether you want Lepto included in your dog's vaccination plan.
For a limited time we are offering vaccination against Lepto with a complimentary/vaccination exam for all our existing canine patients that are up-to-date on their wellness exam. An exam fee will be charge for patients that have medical needs or are not up-to-date on their wellness exam. Vaccination for Lepto is $22.52 per vaccination.