Leptospirosis: What is it and will the new vaccine protect my horse?
Jennifer Allen, DVM
As we rapidly approach autumn and say goodbye to summer, it's a good time to prepare our four legged friends for routine fall vaccines and wellness exams. There is a new (2015) vaccine on the market that you may have heard of called Lepto EQ Innovator, produced by Zoetis. The vaccine was developed to aid in the prevention of Leptospirosis in the horse.
LEPTOSPIROSIS is a zoonotic (can be transferred between animals and humans) spirochete bacterium that is distributed across the world, but is concentrated in areas with higher rainfall. In the horse it is known for causing recurrent uveitis (moon blindness), abortion, renal failure, and occasionally systemic disease. The bacterium is transmitted to the horse from standing water, soil, bedding, feed or drinking water that is contaminated with urine shed from an animal that is a carrier or host for the leptospira organism. Leptospira live in various host mammals including skunks, raccoons, white tailed dear, and opossums, all of which can shed the bacteria via urine. All of these mammals live in the PNW and are often in shared environments with our horses. The horse contracts the bacterium through mucous membranes or pre-existing wounds. The bacterium then congregates and persists in the eyes, kidneys, and in the female reproductive tract, supporting the pathological presentations of uveitis, nephritis and abortion in the horse.
EQUINE RECURRENT UVEITIS (ERU) has been a persistent issue in horses and we have seen multiple cases of it lately. It is the most common cause of impaired vision and blindness in horses and leptospirosis is one of the initiating factors. If left untreated or caught too late ERU, can lead to catastrophic eye pathologies including glaucoma. We submit a blood sample from horses with ERU to be tested for leptospirosis because it will influence our treatment plans and because roughly 70% of all ERU cases are associated with leptospirosis.
Although the Zoetis equine vaccine has only been on the market for a year, it has been shown to be safe and effective for preventing or minimizing disease and for decreasing risk of horse to horse transmission via bacterial shedding in the urine. It is well worth considering adding this vaccine to the vaccination protocol for your horse. We are now stocking Lepto EQ Innovator and we're happy to discuss its use for your particular horse and management conditions. Whenever you see Dr. Bo, Dr. Crystal, or myself at your barn please feel free to ask us about it, we are happy to answer any questions!
READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE