Mitigating leptospirosis with vaccines that reduce both transmission and circulation in the bloodstream


The group discusses strategies involving leptospirosis vaccines

Content sponsored by Merck Animal Health

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: What does it mean when there's a reduction in leptospiremia?

Jenifer Chatfield, DVM, DACZM, DACVPM: So what what you're looking for? If we look at the basics of lepto, what does it do? Well, when it first infects, it's in the peripheral bloodstream for about the first 7 to 10 days. Then it finds its happy place, which you hope, if it's you, you hope it's just the kidneys. But it could also be the liver, right? So if you want to reduce the time, that is circulating, reduction in leptospiremia. And then if you want to reduce the shedding, you want to drop the leptospiuria. And so if you vaccinate with a product that is labeled for that, then you reduce the likelihood of it transmitting from that infected dog to another dog or to you and your family, and you reduce the amount of time that it's in the bloodstream as well. You reduce the overall volume in the circulation. And so those are 2 very good things if you're looking to mitigate disease process in your dog with lepto.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: Okay, that's great. Helpful. And do you think breeders are...has it come a long way with breeders about...I mean, we know that years and years ago, when I first started practicing there used to say no lepto. The breeder would say no lepto. Do you think that paradigm has shifted? Is it changed for the better? Is it still there? What's your experience like?

Laura Anderson: I think there are still some breeders out there that have not gotten past the initial bad versions of the vaccine. And we still hear, "No, I refuse to do that because I had a dog that had an experience with it." I will admit, I've had a dog that had vaccine reactions. Again, it was just simply an antihistamine. That dog wasn't going to die from that like they could die from lepto. I am seeing, and I just, you know for the fun of it, sent out an email survey just to kind of ask, you know, "Where are you with lepto today?" just out of curiosity, in anticipation of thi,s I will admit it. And it's interesting that the younger generation, they're getting...these dogs are getting the vaccines, which is good. The older holdouts in some experience here, they still are like, "Well, I'm not really sure, but you're all getting it, so maybe, you know, maybe I should start rethinking about it."

Kathryn Primm, DVM, CVPM: So you think we're heading in the right direction?

Laura Anderson: I think that is heading in the right direction. I think the message still needs to be clear as to you know, how they contract the disease. And you know, the fact that there's, you know, I mean, I will be honest with you. Until today, I didn't realize there was a hepatic version of lepto. You know, and everybody had always thought, you know, well it's the kidney. You know, you get to the kidneys, you can cure it. It's not a big deal. But I mean, obviously, if you have a 40% mortality rate, I believe you said, and it's a hepatic version of the disease, I mean that's really, really, really scary stuff.

Jenifer Chatfield, DVM, DACZM, DACVPM: But you're not alone in that, right? So when I talked to veterinarians all the time about lepto, and getting folks to have lepto on your differential list for that 12-year-old chocolate lab that comes in with yellow gums, right? No one's thinking lepto in general. But yeah, that that dog could have lepto that's producing the liver failure. And so just kind of putting it more often on the list is tricky. I mean, change is hard. Change is hard.

Laura Anderson: Change is really hard, especially when somebody has had a bad experience

Kathryn Primm, DVM, CVPM: I was gonna say: Bad news, you know, you remember. You remember the bad things.

Laura Anderson: Again, it's, you know, I've never heard of a dog dying from a lepto vaccine, but I've heard of dogs dying of lepto.

Kathryn Primm, DVM, CVPM: Likewise.

Jenifer Chatfield, DVM, DACZM, DACVPM: You know, what's interesting about that is, so I look at lots of data all the time. There's a shocker. And if you look at the vaccine studies, for some of these, there's like one very fine sentence in there that will say all of them resolved within 24 to 48 hours without treatment, which I find they have to do that for safety studies, right? Which I think is interesting, because if it's my dog, and they puff up, or when I used to own emergency clinics, when a dog would show up and they got vaccines earlier that day or something and they [have] a basketball faceor, you know, they started puking or whatever, I don't give just an antihistamine, right? I'm giving steroid; I'm giving the antihistamine injection; and I'm giving them some some fluids, right? Fluids, doctor, everybody needs fluids. That's a little bit alarming. So to see those and realize that it's it is possible, I guess that they could resolve without treatment, that's just like shocking to me, right? Which is why when I read it in the studies, I'm like, well, that's interesting. I'm not waiting on it. They kind of have to, right, because they have to know, right, with this, but we're fixers. I was like, can we just give it some fluids? Yeah, but I find it very, very interesting—all of that stuff with how we arrive with a vaccine on the market in the United States. The safety has to be there, the efficacy has to be there, and the need for it has to be there.

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