Over the last six months we have had a couple of cases of suspected Leptospirosis in working dogs. Like humans, canines do not carry any strains of leptospirosis and when exposed they can become dangerously ill. Clinical signs are of an acute fever with systemic illness that may develop into acute renal or liver failure.
The most common Serovar we see in canine leptospirosis is Copenhageni, carried by rats. Our vaccination in New Zealand cross-protects against this Serovar, but no others.
This vaccine is a killed vaccine, which means it needs a primary course of two vaccinations 3-4 weeks apart, a booster one year after and an annual dose thereafter. Often we find that more than a year has passed between vaccinations and then we have to repeat the primary course of two injections a month apart.
While in New Zealand we have had no confirmed cases of dog to human transfer of leptospires, overseas this has occurred so care with sick dogs should be taken, especially with their urine as this is the main way of transmission.
Vaccination of cattle and sheep is still the main way to protect ourselves and our canines against leptospirosis and if you have had a Lepto problem on your property, or are concerned about the possibility of zoonosis, consult with your vet to work out the vaccination programme most suited to your situation.