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Leptospirosis is a re-emerging disease. This bacterial disease most 
commonly causes liver and kidney problems in dogs, but can also 
cause lung, pancreas, and eye symptoms.  It is a zoonotic disease, 
meaning it can be transferred from animals to people, in fact, it is the 
most common zoonotic disease in the world.  Drinking contaminated 
water is a common mode of transmission for humans and animals.  
It is present in the urine of infected animals, so bodies of water, food 
(for instance, if rodents have access), soil, or even the beach 
California sea lions carry leptospirosis) can easily be contaminated.

Decades ago, veterinarians routinely vaccinated for this disease in a 
combination vaccine with distemper, hepatitis, and parvo, until problems 
with the Lepto part of the vaccine developed.  The older vaccine protected 
against only two types of Lepto, the immunity lasted only about six months, 
and it was the Lepto portion of the vaccine that was most likely to cause 
an allergic reaction.  More recently, when it became apparent that the 
disease was becoming more prevalent, a new and better vaccine was 
developed.  The newer vaccines protect against four different types of 
lepto, the immunity lasts for a year, and allergic reactions are not likely.

Many veterinarians are now recommending that dogs be vaccinated for 
Leptospirosis if they are at risk due to their lifestyle.  So dogs that go on 
hikes, go to the beach, go to lakes, streams or rivers, or have access to 
wildlife should be vaccinated.  If you have a rodent problem at your house, 
you should have your dog vaccinated.  Discuss your dog’s risk with your
veterinarian.  There are even some urban areas that have a problem
with Lepto.

The first year your dog is vaccinated, it will receive a set of two vaccines, 
given three weeks apart.  The vaccine is given annually there after.   
Ask your veterinarian if you have any questions. 

Important Facts

1. There are many different types of Lepto organisms.
2. The current vaccines protect against four of them.
3. It is a disease of dogs, some livestock species, and people.
4. Ask your veterinarian if your dogs are at risk.

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