Definition of Leptospirosis
Leptospirosis, often called “Lepto,” is an infectious disease that affects dogs and other mammals, including mice, rats, pigs, horses, opossums, raccoons, skunks, voles, cows and people. As more people live rural, there is increasing contact between domestic pets and wildlife, which has caused an increase in cases of leptospirosis. The disease is caused by several closely related species of bacteria that are spread in urine, water and soil. Infection occurs when a dog contacts the bacteria through a break in its skin or when it drinks contaminated water or ingests contaminated soil. Leptospira target the kidneys and liver; some infected dogs suffer permanent liver and/or kidney damage, and some die. However, most infected dogs never show signs of being sick, although they still carry the bacteria and are sources of infection for other animals. Leptospirosis is on the rise in companion dogs, especially in crowded urban environments that are overrun with rats and other rodents.