Snapshot of Leptospirosis Strains & Vaccine

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  • Most Leptospirosis strains (there are about 200) do not cause disease, and of the seven clinically important strains, only four — L. icterohaemorrhagiae, L. canicola, L. grippotyphosa, and L. pomona serovars — are found in today’s vaccines. So, exposure risk depends upon which serovars of Leptospirosis have been documented to cause clinical leptospirosis in the area where you live. You can call the county or state health department and ask. Please note: several states do not test water or areas for leptospirosis, which leads us to believe they do not find it clinically significant or a health concern.
  • Leptospirosis vaccines, like Lyme vaccines, need two doses given three to six weeks apart to immunize the dog regardless of the age given. Boosters are then needed annually thereafter. So, if your veterinarian is giving a 5-way, DHLPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus) vaccine to your dog, you will need to schedule another appointment for three weeks later. Regarding puppies, a 9-week old puppy would receive DHLPP at 9 weeks, Lepto at 12 weeks, Distemper and Parvo at 14 weeks. Mind you I do NOT recommend this protocol or even Lepto before 14 weeks of age! (View my vaccination protocol.)
  • In high risk exposure areas, the clinical incidence is about 1:1000-2500 dogs; whereas the general risk is only about 1:5000-10,000 dogs.
  • The eminent Dr. Ron Schultz of the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine notes, “I find there’s still a fairly high percentage of dogs that do not respond to the 4-way vaccine. In addition, of all the bacterin vaccines, leptospirosis causes the most adverse reactions.”

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843

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