Leptospirosis case identified in Laramie County animal

Family washing their dog outside.

Last week, the Wyoming Department of Health Lab identified a case of leptospirosis in a dog from Laramie County. Leptospirosis is a bacteria that can be carried by a number of animals and can make you and your pets ill. Last summer there were a number of cases in dogs and one human case. While Wyoming had cases last summer and one case so far this year, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that typically there are less than 1,000 documented cases each year.

Leptospirosis is spread through the urine of infected animals. Among the animals that can carry the bacteria are dogs, horses, pigs, cattle, rodents and a number of wild animals. The bacteria can survive in water and soil for weeks to months. When animals come into contact with contaminated soil or water, they can catch leptospirosis and pass it on. Humans who come into contact with contaminated animal urine or soil or water may also become infected.

Though leptospirosis is not always evident in pets, some symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Severe weakness
  • Stiffness
  • Muscle pain
  • Inability to have puppies

If you feel your pet may be showing signs of leptospirosis, contact your veterinarian so testing can be conducted. In addition, your pet can be vaccinated to prevent and protect against the bacteria, and treatment can be prescribed if necessary. Keep rodent problems under control around your home and workplace by removing brush, rock piles, junk, and cluttered firewood, and keep your pet away from rodent droppings to further prevent the spread.

If you know your pet is infected, take precautions like wearing gloves and boots if you have to come into contact with their tissue or urine. Be sure to wash your hands after handling your pet and be sure to clean surfaces that may be contaminated with urine with a cleaning solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Ensure your pet takes all required medication and follow up with your veterinarian.

Leptospirosis can also make people ill; certain professions like farmers, mine workers, sewer workers, slaughterhouse workers, veterinarians, animal caretakers, fish workers, dairy farmers and military personnel are at an increased risk for being exposed to the bacteria. Outdoor activities like swimming and kayaking in contaminated rivers or lakes have also led to infections. Human symptoms of leptospirosis include:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Vomiting
  • Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)
  • Red eyes
  • stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash

It is not uncommon for those who are infected to recover from an initial bout of fever, chills, headache, vomiting and diarrhea, and then fall ill again in a short time. Kidney or liver failure or meningitis may result from the second phase of infection if left untreated. Antibiotics are usually prescribed to clear up the infection. Keeping your pets vaccinated and using precautions like boots and gloves when around wild or farm animals can help prevent leptospirosis. For more health information, visit https://clcpublichealth.org/news/