Rocky Valley Veterinary Service

You may have heard that it’s important to vaccinate most dogs against leptospirosis, but did you know that horses can become infected with this, as well?

Leptospirosis in horses is risky. Warm weather, especially here in the south, can be a culprit as the organisms (bacteria) are able to survive more in higher temperate climates. The organism is kept in the kidneys, and when the horse urinates or expels fetal membranes, the bacteria can live for hours to months in soil and water. Warm stagnant water is an important factor and raises the risk in rainy weather.

The infection starts primarily in the mucous membranes, and through scratched and scraped skin. It is also possible to be exposed by way of ingestion, inhalation, transplacental infection, venereal infection, and through animal bites.

Skunks, raccoons, and horses are the primary wildlife responsible for the disease in East Tennessee.

Studies indicated that up to 6% of equine abortions are a result of leptospirosis, and unfortunately the infected mare usually won’t show signs and thus abort the fetus or deliver a stillborn or weak foal.

If you suspect any signs of leptospirosis, it can be diagnosed by serology or PCR/fluorescent antibody test assessment of urine or tissue samples. Penicillin, Oxytetracycline, Enrofloxacin, and doxycycline are some antimicrobials that have been used to treat this infection.

Give us a call at 865-566-8359. If you’re not an established client, please consider our compassionate, professional staff to provide exceptional care for your horse. Be sure to bookmark our website:

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