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Prevalence and Risk Factors for Leptospirosis in Dogs
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
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January 2002 News

Researchers from the School of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University have reviewed almost 2 million records of dogs examined at 22 veterinary teaching hospitals between 1970 and 1998. They wanted to determine if there was a change in the prevalence of leptospirosis in dogs over that time period, and if the risk of infection was affected by age, breed, or sex.

The researchers found that the prevalence of leptospirosis in dogs examined at veterinary teaching hospitals increased since 1983, by approximately 1 more case per 100,000 dogs examined per year. Herding dogs, hounds, and working dogs were found to be at an increased risk of acquiring leptospirosis, as were male dogs. Information on which serovars (varieties) of Leptospira caused infection in the dogs was not available, although other studies have shown an increase in infection with certain serovars (L. pomona and L. grippotyphosa) that had previously not been responsible for causing a significant number of infections in dogs.

Comments from our Veterinary Staff:

The researchers also found there was a wide range in the prevalence of leptospirosis among various geographical areas. To determine the need to vaccinate against leptospirosis, dog owners should consult with their veterinarians to determine how prevalent leptospirosis is in their area and which serovars are most commonly involved.

References and Further Reading

-Ward, MP; Glickman, LT; Guptill, LF. Prevalence of and risk factors for leptospirosis among dogs in the United States and Canada: 677 cases (1970 - 1998). JAVMA 2002; 220:53-58.

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