Leptosporosis is a bacterial infection that can affect many animals including rodents, dogs and humans and is found worldwide. A main source of infection is through contact with infected urine. Historically, it has been generally thought that a main source of infection was from stagnant or slow moving water contaminated by infected urine from rodents or wildlife, but we have also seen cases in Bergen county and New York City as previously mentioned.
Clinical signs can vary and include fever, muscle aches, vomiting, dehydration, trouble breathing, diarrhea, bleeding, jaundice, which can lead to kidney and/or liver failure and even death. Diagnostic testing involves special blood and urine tests.
Treatment depends on severity of disease and symptoms and can include fluid therapy and antibiotics.
Prevention strategies include control of rodent populations, preventing exposure to animal/wildlife/rodent urine- try to always keep your pet supervised, watching your pet closely even during leash walks. Wear gloves if there is any chance you may be in contact with urine. Consider vaccination if you think your pet is high risk- depending on your pet's environment and lifestyle. If your pet is around a lot of other animals (cats, dogs, rodents, wildlife) and may not be well supervised, then I would consider giving the lepto vaccine. Historically, this vaccine has been linked to a higher incidence of adverse reaction. Generally, vaccine reactions are rare but may include fever, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding, dehydration, allergic reaction, and very rarely death. It is not considered a core vaccine (such as rabies and distemper/parvo) in the vaccine protocols we follow from veterinary association guidelines so we give this vaccine on a case-by-case basis depending on your pet's life-style and risk factors.