Canada
Leptospirosis :
closer than
you think?

Leptospirosis & Prevalence

What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a disease caused by the genus of bacteria Leptospira.

There are over 200 different serovars of this spirochaete bacteria that are pathogenic. The most common serovars in Canada that infect dogs are Grippotyphosa, Canicola, Pomona, and Icterohaemorrhagiae.

Dogs may present with non-specific clinical signs such as fever, lethargy, anorexia, and pain as the leptospires can invade the kidneys, liver, lungs, spleen, central nervous system, eyes, and reproductive tract.

What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a disease caused by the genus of bacteria Leptospira.

There are over 200 different serovars of this spirochaete bacteria that are pathogenic. The most common serovars in Canada that infect dogs are Grippotyphosa, Canicola, Pomona, and Icterohaemorrhagiae.

Dogs may present with non-specific clinical signs such as fever, lethargy, anorexia, and pain as the leptospires can invade the kidneys, liver, lungs, spleen, central nervous system, eyes, and reproductive tract.

Prevalence in Canada

There have been cases of canine leptospirosis reported in many provinces in Canada including:

  • an outbreak in Halifax in 2017.
  • confirmed cases in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Québec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick between 2014 to 20181

Wildlife in Ontario, particularly raccoons, have tested positive for leptospirosis2,3,4,5 in both urban and rural areas.

Transmission & Human Risk

How is Leptospirosis Transmitted?

Urban, suburban, and rural dogs can get leptospirosis, particularly in the Fall months (September to December)7.

Wildlife and domestic animals act as reservoirs of Leptospira and can shed bacteria in urine that contaminates the environment.

Transmission to dogs is primarily through:

exposure to contaminated water such as puddles, streams, ponds, and soil

abraded skin or through the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, and/or mouth) where leptospires can enter the body

the mother to the baby through placenta or venereal transfer

bite wounds or ingestion of infected tissue

Human Risk

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans. Humans are primarily infected through contact with contaminated urine, which may come from infected household dogs or from wildlife, such as rats6. Some dogs may look healthy, but can be carriers of the disease.

Clinic staff should be educated on appropriate biosecurity measures when working with infected animals or urine, blood, or bodily fluids from infected animals7. This includes wearing:

  • gowns,
  • face masks,
  • goggles,
  • gloves.

Exposed surfaces should be appropriated disinfected.

Detection & Witness® Lepto

Diagnosis of Leptospirosis

Early diagnosis and treatment of leptospirosis is important for patient outcomes and to decrease the zoonotic potential. Testing for the disease can be challenging as clinical signs are non-specific. Leptospirosis should be considered in any dog with a fever of unknown origin, acute renal failure, or acute/chronic liver failure.

The Witness® Lepto test is an in-clinic test that detects IgM antibodies to Leptospira spp. in canine whole blood, serum, or plasma. IgM antibodies predominate early in infections with leptospirosis.

Clinically ill dogs with signs compatible with acute leptospirosis* can be diagnosed quickly and treatment initiated sooner. There is minimal interference with vaccine-induced antibodies 2 to 3 months after vaccination.

Adapted from: Tizard IR. Veterinary Immunology—An Introduction. 5th ed. Philadelphia: W B Saunders Co; 1996: fig 135, and Greene C.

*fever of unknown origin, signs of renal/liver failure, lethargy, anorexia, vomiting, pulmonary hemorrhage, anaemia, uveitis, abortion

Witness® Lepto

  • Rapid results – in-clinic test results in approximately 10 minutes
  • Detects antibodies to the most common canine serovars (Grippotyphosa, Canicola, Pomona, and Icterohaemorrhagiae)
  • Greater detection rate at day 7 compared to Microscopic Agglutination Test (MAT)10,11,12
  • No refrigeration required. Storage at room temperature for 12 months from manufacturing date.
  • Simple 2-step test procedure that uses just 5 µL of sample
  • Conveniently packaged in kits of 5 tests

Prevention & Vanguard® L4

Prevention of leptospirosis

Vaccination is the most efficacious and easiest way to prevent leptospirosis in dogs at risk8. Vanguard® L4 protects against the most common canine Leptospira serovars in Canada and has proven efficacy in challenge studies13,14,15

Preventing access to stagnant water is also an important preventative measure for dogs.

Key Benefits of Vanguard® L4

  • Proven efficacy against the most common canine Leptospira serovars
  • Vanguard L4 inhibits a renal carrier state and shedding13,14

  • Use of Microfil5 technology ensures the removal of extraneous proteins, ensuring a smooth vaccine with excellent patient comfort

  • Supported by our Quality Medicine Program

Discussing Leptospirosis With Your Clients

Clients that own dogs may not be as familiar with leptospirosis as they are of other diseases, such as Lyme disease. As a result, it is important that your clients learn about the risks they may face for both their dog(s) and family.

Key points to discuss with clients: That is why it is recommended to remind them that:

1.Leptospirosis is present in the cities and carriers such as racoons, skunks, rodents, and foxes can present a risk for introducing the disease to dogs.

2.It is transmitted mainly through contaminated water such as puddles, streams, ponds, and in soil.

3.Symptoms are not obvious in the first stage of the disease and if not treated, leptospirosis can be fatal.

4.Prevention is key and it is important to vaccinate all dogs who are at risk, depending on geographic area and lifestyle.

5.It is a zoonosis, meaning that leptospirosis can be transmitted to humans through infected animal urine.

Tools

To help educate clients, we developed some tools that you can download here:

Leptospirosis brochure for pet owners

(also available through your Zoetis Territory Manager)

Leptospirosis poster

(also available through your Zoetis Territory Manager)

Educational video for your waiting room area and clinic with Facebook account

Facebook posts

References

  1. http://www.petdiseasereport.com, IDEXX, 2014-2018.
  2. Shearer, K.E., Harte, M.J., Ojkic, D., DeLay, J., and Campbell, D. 2014. Detection of Leptospira spp. In wildlife reservoir hosts in Ontario through comparison of immunohistochemical and polymerase chain reaction genotyping methods. Canadian Veterinary Journal 55: 240-248.
  3. Allen, S.A., Ojkiv, D., and Jardine, C.M. 2014. Prevalence of Antibodies to Leptospira in Wild Mammals Trapped on Livestock Farms in Ontario, Canada. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 50(3): 666-670.
  4. Jardine C et al. Longitudinal study on the seroprevalence of avian influenza, leptospirosis, and tularemia in an urban population of raccoons (Procyon lotor) in Ontario, Canada. Vector Borne & Zoonotic Diseases 11, no. 1 (2011):37-42.
  5. Himsworth, C.G., Parsons, K.L., Jardine, C., and Patrick, D.M. 2013. Rats, Cities, People, and Pathogens: A Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis of Literature Regarding the Ecology of Rat-Associated Zoonoses in Urban Centers. Vector-borne and Zoonotic Diseases 13(6): 349-359.
  6. Himsworth, C.G., Bidulka, J., Parsons, K.L., Feng, A.Y.T., Tang, P., Jardine, C.M., Kerr, T., Mak, S., Robinson, J., and Patrick, D.M. 2013. Ecology of Leptospira interorgans in Norway Rats (Rattus norvegicus) in an Inner-City Neighborhood of Vancouver, Canada. PLOS Neglected Tropical Disease 7(6): 1-9.
  7.  Prescott, J. 2008. Canine leptospirosis in Canada: a veterinarian’s perspective. Canadian Medical Association Journal 178(4): 397 – 398.
  8. Sykes, J.E., Hartmann, K., Lunn, K.F., Moore, G.E., Stoddard, R.A., and Goldstein, R.E. 2010 ACVIM Small Animal Consensus Statement on Leptospirosis: Diagnosis, Epidemiology, Treatment, and Prevention. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 25:1-13.
  9. Levett, P.N. 2004. Leptospirosis: A forgotten zoonosis? Clinical Applied Immunological Review 4:435-448.
  10. Company Data - Study No. BH63W-US-16-230.
  11. Company Data - Study No. BH63W-US-16-232.
  12. Company Data - Study No. D866R-US-14-015
  13. Company Data - Study No. 3161R-60-02-176
  14. Company Data - Study No. 3161R-60-02-177.
  15. Company Data – Study Nos 3464R-60-02-180 and 3464R-60-03-205

Zoetis®, Vanguard® and Witness® are registered trademarks of Zoetis or its licensors, used under license by Zoetis Canada Inc.