Preventing Lyme Disease and Leptospirosis
Lyme disease and leptospirosis are nasty diseases affecting us and our pets. To protect your entire family, make sure your pet is always up-to-date on their Lyme and leptospirosis vaccines.
North Carolina is considered a high-risk state for Lyme disease, since the tick that spreads Lyme—the Ixodes tick, also known as the black-legged tick or the deer tick—is prevalent here.
Symptoms of Lyme disease include:
- Swollen joints
Symptoms usually don’t appear until one to five months after infection. Some dogs that have been infected act completely normal and never become sick, while others develop irreversible kidney failure.
Park Veterinary Hospital highly recommends vaccinating your dog against Lyme, especially if your dog frequents wooded areas or if you’ve found ticks on your dog.
Leptospirosis is caused by Leptospira interrogans serovars, and it is transmitted through direct contact with contaminated urine, water or soil. The bacteria can survive in water and moist soil for a long time, sometimes for many months, and infected dogs can continue to shed the bacteria in their urine for years. It’s also zoonotic, so our pets can transfer leptospirosis to us and vice versa.
Some dogs that contract leptospirosis never show symptoms, but those that do often require hospitalization. When symptoms do occur, they generally include:
- Muscle pain
- Loss of appetite
- Blood in urine
Some dogs have a higher risk of leptospirosis infection than other dogs. At-risk dogs include dogs that hike or swim in and/or near natural water, hunting dogs and dogs that frequently encounter other dogs at places like dog shows, dog parks and pet boarding facilities. City-dwelling dogs are at risk, too. In February 2017, an outbreak in New York City killed one person.
Because leptospirosis is a bacteria, the vaccine does not produce the same three-year immunity as vaccines for viruses like DHPP and rabies do, so Park Veterinary Hospital recommends having pets vaccinated against leptospirosis annually.