This is a bacterial disease that has been getting more press recently on the coast due to the fact
that more and more dead or dying sea lions are being found to have this bacterial disease. This
actually isn't brand new information as the sea lions have long been known to be dying due to the
bacterial disease, and thus owners and their pets are not more prone to the disease now then they
were 7 years ago.
However, leptospirosis is indeed a nasty bacterial disease, usually spread through the urine of
infected animals, and can cause significant ailment both in humans and pets.
Clinical signs that one would see in their infected dog would include fever, abdominal discomfort,
vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. These are all clinical signs that would warrant quick attention
from the owner to bring their pet to their veterinarian.
To assist in making the diagnosis it should be pointed out to your veterinarian, if they don't ask,
that the patient has been exposed to dead or dying sea lions, cattle, rat or raccoon urine.
It should then be noted that decreasing your pet's exposure to dying or dead marine mammals,
cow, raccoon and or rat urine would significantly reduce the exposure risk.
This is a zoonotic disease, meaning humans can contract it from their animals. Our State
Veterinarian has pointed out that people should indeed "be cautious but not unduly worried about
the bacteria." Leptospirosis can be treated successfully with antibiotics, and vaccinations are
available that reduce the risk of contracting the disease but doesn't completely eliminate it.
The take home point about leptospirosis is that if you keep your pets away from marine mammals
and limit the exposure specifically to cow, rat, raccoon urine that you would greatly reduce the
risk of disease. If your pet is at high risk to being exposed then it would indeed be a good idea
to vaccinate your patient.
If your pet has any of the above mentioned clinical signs, make sure to contact your veterinarian.
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