The media, whether it’s a social or not, definitely knows how to create hype. A review of the biology of leptospirosis infection as well as the efficacy of the vaccine will help the pet owner debunk the current media-stirred frenzy.
First, leptospirosis, commonly called lepto, is a bacterial infection transmitted through the urine. It is very common in wild animals, especially raccoons. If you live, or your dogs work or play, where it is likely that they will drink from puddles that wild animals could have urinated in, then your dog is at increased risk of infection. There is some evidence that lepto infected urine can splash on inanimate objects and dogs (and humans) can be infected that way. This is more likely to effect dogs with weakened immune systems.
The most common signs of leptospirosis infection are vomiting and lack of appetite. The astute pet owner would bring their vomiting dog to the veterinarian quickly for diagnosis and treatment. Therefore, most cases are treatable.
Vaccines are reported to protect against some strains of lepto. There are numerous different types of lepto, most vaccines do not protect against every variety. Some vaccines protect against only one or two strains of the bacteria, some vaccines protect against four.
Additionally, a really important question is to find out how long that vaccine really lasts. The vaccine companies recommend annual revaccination. However, I have a colleague, a bovine veterinarian, who dealt with a beef herd that was experiencing high rates of abortion. (Leptospirosis causes abortion in cattle, as well as breeding dogs.) it was finally determined that leptospirosis infection was the culprit of the abortions. In order for the cattle in this particular herd to be protected, these animals need to be vaccinated four times a year! It begs the question of whether or not the vaccine is truly efficacious in any species. Owners can get the vaccine for their dog and erroneously think their dog is safe. That may not be the case depending on what strain of lepto the dog is exposed to by the infected animal.
Furthermore, the vaccine is not without side effects. There are plenty of dogs that react to the lepto portion of the combination vaccines.
Most likely, they article that is being circulated around social media is hype created by a vaccine company. Most animals are vaccinated between April and September. By creating “awareness”prior to prime vaccination season, the vaccine companies can increase their bottom line through such methods of”Consumer education.”
If, at the end of this discussion you choose to have your dog vaccinated, it would be wise to ask your veterinarian which vaccine is being used, which strains are protected against, and how many strains are contained in the vaccine. In addition, deeper research into the safety and duration of immunity into these vaccines is recommended.