University of Florida warns veterinarians, pet owners of leptospirosis surge

Veterinarians in Florida should be on heightened alert for leptospirosis cases, according to the University of Florida (UF).

The UF Small Animal Hospital recently reported that it has observed a perceptible rise in the number of animals presenting with the bacterial disease.

"In a typical year, we see almost no cases of leptospirosis in dogs at UF," said Carsten Bandt, DVM, assistant professor of emergency medicine and critical care at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine. "We have now seen 12 cases, just within the past six months."

Bandt explained that although many animal species and humans contract leptospirosis, "there have been very few cases of pets diagnosed with this disease in the last decade in Florida."

The rarity of leptospirosis cases in the state means that many dogs have not been vaccinated against the disease, Bandt said.

The university advised pet owners to exercise caution when handling the urine of possibly ill animals, as well as to watch for symptoms including:

  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Lack of interest in eating
  • Vomiting
  • Fever and/or abdominal pain
  • Changes in the frequency of urination