Leptospirosis update

Leptospirosis seems to be here to stay in Arizona. Traditionally laboratory data has shown that the disease existed in Arizona, yet there were only a few cases diagnosed every  year.    Since November of 2016 we have seen an uptick in the number of cases in dogs with over 80 cases reported to date.

Leptospirosis in Arizona
** With the steady increase in the number of dogs diagnosed with Leptospirosis  throughout Arizona, the State Veterinarian, Dr. Peter Mundschenk, recommends dog
owners consider vaccinating their pets. Dr. Mundschenk strongly recommends that dog boarding and day care facilities consider requiring proof of a Leptospirosis
vaccination prior to boarding. **

The Arizona State Veterinarian’s Office encourages dog owners to watch for
common signs of Leptospirosis in their pets:
 Drinking more than usual
 Urinating more than usual
 Lack of urination
 Redness in the eyes
 Depression
 Reluctance to eat
 Fever over 103.5° F
If your pet has any of these signs or you are concerned about Leptospirosis in your
pet family member, please seek advice from your pet’s veterinarian.

Your veterinarian may recommend vaccines for Leptospirosis depending on the degree of risk they may have. Dogs at increased risk include:

Outdoor dogs that engage in hiking and swimming in natural waters
Dogs with contact with other animal species (i.e. farm animals or wildlife)
Hunting dogs
Dogs that are frequently exposed to areas of standing water or flooded areas.
Dogs that have frequent exposure to other dogs in high density areas
(dogs shows, dog parks, pet boarding facilities)
Dogs that travel frequently or have contact with dogs that travel

Because Leptospirosis can infect humans owners should be aware that they can be infected with Leptospirosis from contact with urine. However rare, there are some precautions that owners, veterinarians and their staff should consider:
Avoid areas that pets urinate frequently
Wash hands after taking pets for their walks
Wash clothes that may have come in contact with pet urine
Symptoms of Leptospirosis in people vary. If pet owners are concerned about
their risk of infection, they are encouraged to talk to their primary care

In Arizona due to the public health concerns, Leptospirosis is a reportable disease to the State Veterinary Office who works in conjunction with State and Local public health offices to follow up to make sure there are not any human infections.  Reporting is important to monitor spread of the disease.


Reminder for Local Jurisdictions Regarding Leptospirosis Reporting

 Local public health departments might have noticed an increase in the number of reports sent to them by veterinarians about canine cases of leptospirosis. It is the responsibility of public health to follow-up with dog owners and veterinary staff since this is a zoonotic disease, and it is the responsibility of the Arizona Department of Agriculture (ADA) to follow-up with the animal investigation. The Arizona Administrative Code R3-2-402 requires that veterinarians report animal cases of leptospirosis to the ADA Office of the State Veterinarian (Dr. Peter Mundschenk) by the end of each month at the latest.

ADA has noticed a lack of reporting by veterinarians about canine cases of leptospirosis. Although messaging and notifications are going out to veterinarians to improve reporting, ADA has requested that any reports of canine leptospirosis sent to local public health be forwarded to ADA as well so that they are made aware and can follow up on the animal side. ADA is also requesting that local public health remind the reporting veterinarian that they need to contact the ADA State Veterinarian. In addition, any cases send to ADA will result in a notification to local public health to follow-up on the public health side.

Local jurisdictions can forward animal cases of leptospirosis reported to them directly to the ADA State Veterinarian Dr. Mundschenk at pmundschenk@azda.gov.

Veterinarians can report animal cases of leptospirosis by submitting a fax to 602-542-4290 or by e-mail at diseasereporting@azda.gov.

Thank you for your continued efforts and collaboration!

Dr. Peter