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Leptospirosis in Horses

Leptospirosis in Horses

Leptospirosis in horses is caused by bacteria that infect their mucous membranes, leading to bacteremia and potentially affecting other vital organs and functions. Our vets at Mount Vernon provide information on the symptoms, treatment, and prevention of leptospirosis in horses.

What is Leptospirosis in Horses?

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects various animals and can spread to humans through contact with the bacteria. Horses contract the disease by coming into contact with infected urine or blood through their mucus membranes or cuts and scratches on their legs. They can also get infected by ingesting contaminated hay, grain, or water.

What Are The Symptoms of Leptospirosis in Horses?

Leptospirosis symptoms in horses include depression, fever, loss of appetite, and uveitis, which can lead to blindness if it occurs frequently. Severe infection can put horses at risk of kidney and liver failure, and pregnant mares may experience abortion. About half of all horses are believed to be exposed to Leptospirosis at some point in their lives, but the exact numbers are unknown.

How is Leptospirosis in Horses Diagnosed and Treated?

Leptospirosis in horses can be diagnosed through bacterial culture, serology, or PCR assay, but these methods are often limited by technical and cost factors. Cattle can be diagnosed with a microagglutination test (MAT) to detect Leptospirosis antibodies. Treatment for horses includes local and systemic antimicrobials, as well as intravitreal injections of low-dose gentamicin for uveitis.

How Can Leptospirosis in Horses be Prevented?

A new vaccine is available to prevent Leptospirosis in horses, which can be safely administered to horses over 6 months old, and protect pregnant mares from abortion.

Managing farms well is important by keeping wild animals away from horses, their feed, and water. Water sources should be replenished often.

Veterinarians and animal caretakers are more likely to contract Leptospirosis, so they should avoid contact with infected animal urine.
 Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you would like to learn more about how you can protect your horse from conditions such as Leptospirosis, please get in touch with our Mount Vernon veterinary team.

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Northwest Veterinary Clinic of Mount Vernon is accepting new patients! Our vets are passionate about the health of Mount Vernon cats, dogs, and horses. Get in touch today to book your animal's first appointment.

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