Leptospirosis is known for being a widespread zoonotic disease throughout the world and is estimated to cause almost 60,000 deaths a year from more than 1 million cases worldwide. A handful of animals are known to be carriers of this disease which puts humans at risk of being infected.
What Is Leptospirosis?
Mostly common in warmer climates, Leptospirosis is an infectious disease caused by a bacteria that is spread through the urine of infected animals. This disease can potentially cause fatal infections of the liver, brain, lung, heart or kidneys. If you or someone else has regular contact with animals or natural sources where infected animals could be present, the likelihood of you being infected increases. People like farmers, sewage workers, Veterinarians or animal caretakers, fisherman and even mine workers are more at risk of coming into contact with an infected animal or an infected water or soil source because of the nature of their job. Those who like to raft or kayak are also at increased risk if they happen to come across an infected water source.
How Is Leptospirosis Spread?
Animals or humans that come into contact with an infected water or soil source can become infected by this bacterial disease. If humans have come into contact with the bacteria they will likely experience some or all of the following within a matter of days or a few weeks: headaches, chills, eye redness, vomiting, spiked fevers, muscle pain and possible bleeding. Foregoing treatment of this bacterial infection can lead to experiencing major damage to the kidneys, liver and even death. Treatment of Leptospirosis will consist of a prescribed antibiotic so seeing a doctor right away is recommended to eliminate any infection. Pets or animals carrying Leptospirosis can go without showing any symptoms.
What Animals Carry Leptospirosis?
There are many animals known to carry Leptospirosis. The most common being rodents, raccoons, dogs, horses, opossums, cattle, pigs, sheep and goats. Learning this, one can see why those who work on farms are at higher risk of coming into contact with this disease yet, even a pet owner of dogs is at possible risk. Warmer climates aid in the survival of this bacteria so those living in places where the weather is warmer longer also have an increased risk of coming into contact with the disease.
How Can Transfer Of Infection Be Minimized?
When it comes to your pets, having them see their Veterinarian for a vaccine will protect them from getting this disease. This step alone will decrease your chances of being exposed, assuming you are not around any other animal carriers. People like farmers and animal caregivers on the other hand will need to avoid having contact with animal urine or body fluids and ensure that any open wounds are not exposed when around these animals. Wearing protective clothing and footwear as a barrier against contact with infection will lessen the risk of transfer as well as staying away from any possible water or soil sources that may be contaminated. It’s also a good idea to make sure that you do not have a rat problem under or around your property as they can quickly contaminate the surroundings of one’s property.
With a lot of animals being possible carriers of Leptospirosis it’s important to have awareness of the risks both to you and your pets. Gaining knowledge so that you can protect yourself and loved ones will be key in minimizing any risk of infection. Protect your pets and protect yourself. You all are worth it!