Get pet disease alerts on infectious canine leptospirosis! – Dr. Justine Lee | Dr. Justine Lee


Posted by justinelee in Animal Safety, Blog, Pet Health, Pet Help


New “Pet DiseaseAlerts” Meets Critical Need to Alert Veterinarians, Pet Owners about InfectiousDisease Outbreaks Threatening Health of Pets and People

Subscription service launches with text/email alerts aboutlocal cases of Leptospirosis — a highly infectious disease potentially fatal todogs — that can be transmitted to people

Service to expand with alerts for canineinfluenza this fall

SALEM, ORE. (June17, 2020) — PetDisease Alerts, a nonprofit establishedby the Companion Animal ParasiteCouncil (CAPC), announces the launch of its newservice to alert veterinarians and pet owners about outbreaks of Leptospirosis.The highly infectious, bacterial disease can be fatal to unvaccinated dogs — andtransmitted to people. The subscription service will add alerts for otherbacterial and viral diseases, including canine influenza, this fall. 

“Because highly infectiousdiseases like Leptospirosis can spread rapidly, it’s essential forveterinarians and dog owners to have timely, local information about diagnosedcases. Pet Disease Alerts is the first and only service to directly communicatecurrent, positive leptospirosis cases in every county across the United States,”said Dr. Chris Carpenter, DVM and CEO of Pet Disease Alerts. “With the immediacy of a text oremail alert, the new service enables veterinarians and pet owners to proactivelyprotect pets — and their families.”

Unvaccinateddogs and people can contract leptospirosis when in direct contact with stagnantwater and soil contaminated by the urine of infected animals such as racoons,rats or other wildlife. Common sources of infection include puddles, creeks,ponds, shallow lakes and rivers.

“If you receive an alert of one diagnosedcase of leptospirosis in your county, that is enough for veterinarians and petowners to be alarmed,” said EmilioDeBess, DVM, MPVM, State Public Health Veterinarian for the State of Oregon andPet Disease Alerts board member. “Just one case isthe tip of the iceberg of undetected and potential infections. The presence ofone diagnosed case in a local community has the potential to threaten yourdog’s life — and put your family’s health at risk.”

Once a dog hascontracted leptospirosis, the incubation period is from one to four weeks. “Inthe meantime, the infected dog sheds the bacteria into their environmentcreating a source of infection to other dogs — and to their human family,” said Dr. CraigPrior, BVSC, CVJ and Pet Disease Alerts board member.

In people, leptospirosis cancause symptoms such as fever, headache, vomiting, jaundice, abdominal pain,diarrhea and rash. Without treatment, Leptospirosis can lead to damage of theliver, kidney or central nervous system.

“Leptospirosis isa disease that can keep veterinarians up at night,” said Emilio DeBess, DVM, MPVM, State PublicHealth Veterinarian for the State of Oregon and Pet Disease Alerts boardmember. “It can be challenging to diagnose in dogs because early symptoms arevague — lethargy,inappetence, vomiting, diarrhea — and can correlate with other diseases. By thetime a diagnosis is confirmed, it’s often too late, leading to acute renal orliver failure — and people in the household have potentially been exposed.”

Misperceptionsabout leptospirosis

There are commonmisperceptions about leptospirosis that contribute to increased risk.

  • Leptospirosis was previously considered adisease confined to rural areas. This is no longer the case. Leptospirosis isnow diagnosed in dogs in suburban and urban neighborhoods, including apartmentcomplexes, condominiums and gated communities — in all 50 states.
  • Pet parents mistakenly underestimate the riskfor leptospirosis because their dog doesn’t swim in ponds or wade in creeks. “Yetall unvaccinated dogs are at risk for leptospirosis when they simply step in a smallpuddle on a daily neighborhood walk or walk on damp soil in their backyard,”DeBess said.
  • Because older dogs are less active, there is a misperception thatthey aren’t at risk. The majority of leptospirosis infections occurs in dogsfrom ages 5 to 9-years old.
  • Dry climates are typically mistaken to not be at risk forleptospirosis. Any place that gets rain at any time of the year has thepotential for leptospirosis outbreaks.

“And similar to how the coronavirusis transmitted, when people touch an infected dog — and then touch their face —they are at risk of contracting leptospirosis through their mouth, nose andeyes,” DeBess said.

Fortunately, annual leptospirosis vaccinesare available to protects dogs — and their families. Time-sensitive notificationsfrom Pet Disease Alerts provide veterinarians and pet parents with critical,local information to help make decisions about testing dogs with symptoms,vaccinating unprotected dogs or making sure dogs are current on annual vaccinations.

To receive leptospirosis alerts, complete ashort registrationform on the Pet Disease Alerts web site ( and indicate three counties to monitor fora year with a $5 donation. If positive cases of Leptospirosis are diagnosed inyour local area, the service will send an alert via email and/or text.

About PetDisease Alerts

PetDisease Alerts is a publiccharity focused on alerting pet owners to the threat of pet diseases in theirlocal areas. Established by the CompanionAnimal Parasite Council (CAPC)in 2018, Pet Disease Alerts was founded to directly communicate crucial,time-sensitive information about disease threats, encouraging pet owners to beproactive by visiting their veterinarian and getting their pets tested andprotected. For more, visit

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