At East Lane Veterinary Hospital, we have always maintained the philosophy of educating and empowering you to make informed medical care decisions for your pets. In line with that philosophy, we feel compelled to inform you about an emerging disease in Oregon. This disease is called Leptospirosis and can affect many species including your dogs, cattle, or humans.
The carriers of Lepto include raccoons, rats and wildlife species. The infection is generally spread by contact with contaminated water. Even though it is often difficult to identify whether a dog is really at risk, we are obligated to suggest vaccination for any dog exposed to water sources that could have been in contact with wildlife or rats, or carcasses of wildlife that could be carrying it. Not only has Oregon become one of the higher incidence states but Lane and Multnomah counties have the highest number of cases in the state. The public health veterinarian for Oregon suggests that the number of confirmed cases of Lepto in pets is actually lower than the actual cases reported because many are treated without the test being performed. What is alarming about this probable underreporting is that this disease is communicable to humans in the same way it is acquired by dogs. As a result, more humans than we know may have been exposed to the disease.
This disease starts like so many other diseases with lethargy, loss of appetite and vomiting, but eventually harms the liver and kidneys and can be fatal. It is preventable with an initial series of two vaccinations followed by an annual booster vaccination. Unlike Rabies, Distemper and Parvo, your pet must be revaccinated every year for Lepto as the duration of the immunity from the vaccination is not as long. The primary group of dogs that we make the strongest recommendation for vaccinating is hunting dogs that are used in wet environments or any dog that is often hiking, camping, or drinking water from outside sources.