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Leptospirosis

Facts & Vaccine Recommendations
Leptospirosis is an illness caused by spiral- shaped bacterium. It is considered a reemerging disease in Indiana, meaning it appears to be happening more often than in the past. Even though Leptospirosis remains an uncommon disease, illness in dogs can be severe and often involves 
kidney failure,  liver disease, fever, and numerous other signs. People can also become affected, sometimes seriously, with everything from flu-like symptoms to infections involving vital organs. 

Various wild animals and livestock, including mice, rats, deer, raccoons, opossums, and cattle, serve as "reservoirs" of the disease and if infected shed the causative bacteria in their urine. In this way, soil or water, especially slow-moving warmer water such as that found in ponds, ditches, or puddles, can become contaminated with the bacteria. Dogs usually become infected by exposure to contaminated water or soil. People can become infected by exposure to contaminated water or soil as well, or by exposure to the urine of dogs with the disease. Caught early, Leptospirosis is generally treatable, though the care required is often intensive and expensive. 

Vaccines are currently available against most of the different types of leptospira bacteria that cause illness in dogs. These newer vaccines were developed to be both safer and more effective that older vaccines, which were associated with an increased risk of vaccine reactions. 

Because most of our canine patients could become exposed to contaminated water or soil, because the disease can be very severe and expensive to treat, and because people are also at risk of acquiring the disease, we recommend routine vaccination of most dogs against Leptospirosis. We do not routinely recommend vaccination of dogs under 5 lbs or Dachshunds because these patients seem more susceptible to leptospira vaccine reactions. In addition, dogs that rarely go outside may be at reduced risk of infection, though judging the risk of an individual dog becoming infected is difficult. 

If your dog has never been vaccinated against Leptospirosis, we'll give them an initial vaccine then have you return in three (3) weeks for a booster vaccination. After this initial series, an annual booster will be given during their routine check - up. For dogs at increased risk of acquiring the disease, such as dogs that swim or hunt regularly or spend time in rural settings, a booster vaccination every six (6) months is recommended. The initial Leptospirosis vaccination series is currently included in our Puppy Package (except for very small dogs, and/or Dachshunds).

If you have any questions about Leptospirosis, the vaccination, the risk to people, etc. please don't hesitate to ask. You can call us here at Hazel Dell Animal Hospital at 317-846-8710. 

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Clark Bassett, DVM

Have you met this owner yet?
 Dr. Bassett is a lifelong resident of Central Indiana. He grew up in Anderson, then attended Purdue University. He graduated from Purdue’s School of Veterinary Medicine in 1989. After graduation, Dr. Bassett practiced in Eastern Iowa and worked on many different kinds of animals (dogs, cats, cattle, pigs, horses, sheep, etc.). In 1991, he returned to Indianapolis and began a career in emergency practice that continues to this day. He was manager of the Animal Emergency Clinic in Castleton from 1995-1998 and director of the Northwood Veterinary Emergency Practice in Anderson from 1998-2002, where he continued to work part-time as a staff veterinarian until 2013. Since starting the Hazel Dell Animal Hospital with Dr. McDaniel in 2002, Dr. Bassett has worked primarily in general practice, providing medical and surgical care to dogs and cats and other assorted small furry creatures.
Dr. Bassett is a resident of Carmel, where he lives with his wife Jill (a perso…