While not a parasite, this organism causes a devastating infection, called leptospirosis, to both animals and humans. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, which means you may contract the illness from your pet! Leptospira bacteria are shed through the urine of infected animals (mostly wildlife). Common carriers are skunks, raccoons, squirrels, and foxes. The bacteria generally find their way into soil and still water (like puddles), so pets that go outdoors in any capacity are at risk. Those critters who like to drink from puddles or enjoy swimming are at an ever higher risk of developing this infection.
The Leptospira organism only needs to come into contact with mucus membranes (like your eyes, nose, or mouth) or an open cut to cause infection. Once inside, the bacteria causes a widespread, serious infection of the liver, kidneys, nervous system, and other body systems. Sometimes the infection is bad enough to cause permanent damage to the liver and kidneys, which may be fatal. There are several different organisms under the Leptospira umbrella. Signs of infection are vast and vague, which make detecting the illness difficult. Some of the signs may include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, drinking more and urinating more, and decreased appetite. Vaccinating our pets is the only way to help protect our pets from contracting leptospirosis. If your pet is not vaccinated against this illness and you feel your pet may be at risk, please contact us today!