Diseases / List of Bacterial Diseases / Disease description:

Leptospirosis (with notes on Hedgehogs, Elephants, Bears, Lagomorphs and Ferrets)

INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL INFORMATION

CLINICAL CHARACTERISTICS & PATHOLOGY

INVESTIGATION & DIAGNOSIS

TREATMENT & CONTROL

SUSCEPTIBILITY & TRANSMISSION

ENVIRONMENT & GEOGRAPHY

..

 

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General and References

Disease Summary

Usually inapparent disease in wild animals, but may be severe and fatal in some species including dogs and humans.

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Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Weil's disease
  • Mud fever
  • Rice paddy disease
  • Autumn fever
  • Seven-day fever
  • Swineherder's disease
  • Blackwater fever
  • Canicola fever
  • Fort Bragg fever
  • (B58.30.w30)
(B58.30.w30)

In dogs:

  • Canine typhus
  • Stuttgart disease
  • Infectious jaundice
  • (B101)
(B101)

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Disease Type

 Bacterial Infection

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Infectious/Non-Infectious Agent associated with the Disease

  • Leptospira organisms; a variety of antigenically distinct serovars (B58.30.w30, B101).
  • Leptospira interrogans (B209.28.w28).
  • In dogs mainly Leptospira canicola and Leptospira copenhageni serovars. (B101)
  • Leptospira ballum serovar: one of the maintenance hosts in New Zealand is the hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus - West European Hedgehog)
  • In ferrets Leptospira grippotyphosa and Leptospira icterohaemorrhagica have been isolated. (B626.8.w8, B627.14.w14, B631.4.w4, J213.2.w6, J215.23.w1)

Infective "Taxa"

Non-infective agents

--

Physical agents

--

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References

Disease Author

Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5); Nikki Fox BVSc MRCVS (V.w103); Gracia Vila-Garcia DVM, MSc, MRCVS (V.w67); Bridget Fry BSc, RVN (V.w143)
Click image for main Reference Section

Major References / Reviews

Code and Title List

B58.30.w30, B101, B209.28.w28, B283, B336.68.w68
P23.1999S.w5

Hedgehogs:

J9.180.w1, J18.38.w1

Elephants:

J12.75.w1
P502
.1.w1

Bears:
B16
.9.w9, B407.w18, B419.14.w14
J1
.29.w12
P1
.1975.w1

Lagomorphs:
B614.8.w8, P17.24.w2, P23.1999S.w5

Ferrets:

B626.8.w8, B627.14.w14,  B629.13.w13, B631.4.w4
J215
.23.w1, J213.2.w6
P20
.1992.w7

Other References

Code and Title List

Hedgehogs:
J1
.8.w1, J1.12.w7, J1.17.w8, J10.25.w1, J10.29.w1, J21.35.w1, J21.22.w3, J98.1960i.w1, J119.23.w1, J141.9.w1, J142.54.w1, J143.17.w1, J144.25.w1, J145.13.w1, P17.24.w2

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Clinical Characteristics and Pathology

Detailed Clinical and Pathological Characteristics

General

 

Leptospira spp. can cause disease and have been recorded in a wide variety of species.
  • Inapparent to severe disease; signs may include fever, jaundice (icterus), haemoglobinuria, abortion, death. (B58.30.w30, B101, B209.28.w28).
  • Usually inapparent infection in wild mammals (B209.28.w28).

Clinical Characteristics

In dogs:

Severe infection:-

  • Sudden onset, slight weakness, anorexia, vomiting, temperature 103-105F/39.5-40.5C, + mild conjunctivitis
  • Progressing to sharp drop in temperature, pronounced depression, laboured respiration, marked thirst.
  • Jaundice (icterus) may be first sign noticed.
  • May be: lumbar pain, oral lesions, difficulty in swallowing, tenacious saliva, sometimes bloodstained.
  • Advanced disease: profound depression, muscular tremors, temperature as low as 97 F/36 C, + bloody vomit/faeces
  • Frequent urination if acute nephritis is present
  • Sunken eyes, injected conjunctiva, thready pulse, may be uraemia.

With Leptospira canicola there is often subsequent chronic progressive nephritis.

  • Fever, jaundice

(B101)

In rats:

  • Inapparent infection, mainly Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiae.
  • Prolonged (lifelong) shedding of the organism in urine
  • Organism can cause disease in e.g. humans, dogs
HEDGEHOGS
  • General signs: 
    • Usually no clinical signs. (J18.38.w1)
    • Weight loss may be seen occasionally. (J18.38.w1)

Following experimental inoculation with Leptospira pomona:

  • General: Fever, peaking repeatedly, with sub-normal temperature between peaks.(J9.180.w1)
  • Hepatic: Jaundice. (J9.180.w1)
  • Reproductive: abortion may occur. (J9.180.w1)
  • Clinical pathology: 
    • Urine: May contain Leptospira organisms. (J9.180.w1)
    • Develop high agglutination-lysis titres. (J9.180.w1)
BEARS
FERRETS Note: Deaths can occur in ferrets without clinical signs. (B626.8.w8) Clinical signs are not always present. (B631.4.w4) If clinical are present then they are similar to those seen in carnivores. (P20.1992.w7)

General:

Incubation

  • Four to 10 days in cattle. (B47)
HEDGEHOGS
  • Excretion of leptospires in urine by 16-18 days after experimental infection with Leptospira pomona. (J9.180.w1)
BEARS --
FERRETS --

Mortality / Morbidity

  • Abortion and neonatal mortality are important following infection in cattle. (B47)
  • Mortality in dogs may be high with the acute haemorrhagic form of the disease. (B47)
HEDGEHOGS
  • "Almost invariably" fatal infection following experimental infection of juveniles (up to half grown) with Leptospira pomona. (J9.180.w1)
  • Death in adults rare ("usually survive") following experimental infection with Leptospira pomona. (J9.180.w1)
BEARS --
FERRETS
  • Death can occur if not treated. (B626.8.w8)

Pathology

Gross pathology in dogs:
  • Haemorrhages (any organ).
  • Liver - swollen in acute disease, white/grey streaks/foci in chronic disease.
  • Kidneys: swollen in acute disease, white/grey streaks/foci in chronic disease.
  • Lesions of acute uraemia in acute disease.

    (B283)

Histopathology in dogs:

  • Acute: Acute interstitial nephritis, possibly hepatitis.(B283)
  • Chronic: chronic interstitial nephritis and/or chronic active hepatitis. (B283)
HEDGEHOGS Gross pathology:
  • Spleen: Enlarged. (J18.38.w1)
  • Kidneys: Pale, rigid. (J18.38.w1)
  • Urine: Green. (J18.38.w1)

Following experimental inoculation with Leptospira pomona:

  • Pulmonary: "butterfly lungs". (J9.180.w1)
  • Hepatic: degenerative lesions. (J9.180.w1)
  • Spleen: degenerative lesions. (J9.180.w1)
  • Kidneys: degenerative lesions. (J9.180.w1)
  • Note: "typical lesions" seen also in two naturally infected wild hedgehogs. (J9.180.w1)

Histopathology:

  • No lesions in kidneys despite the presence of leptospires. (J1.12.w7)
  • Distribution of leptospires in the kidney: Present in the proximal convoluted tubule, thick loop of Henle and the distal convoluted tubule but absent from the thin loop of Henle and the collecting duct. (J1.12.w7)
BEARS Gross pathology:
  • Mucous membranes: jaundice. (B16.9.w9)
  • Kidney: Petechial haemorrhages on the cortex. (B16.9.w9)
  • Spleen: Mild enlargement. (B16.9.w9)
  • In a five-month-old Ursus maritimus - Polar bear cub which was found dead nine days after falling into the moat of its enclosure, "liver damage" was noted on necropsy (no histopathological examination was carried out). The other cub in the litter developed illness, later diagnosed as leptospirosis, about six weeks later. (P1.1975.w1)
FERRETS --

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Human Health Considerations

ZOONOSIS

  • Incubation period in humans 2-30 days, but usually 5-14 days.
  • Sudden onset severe headache, muscle pains, fever, conjunctival suffusion, skin and palate transient rash, photophobia.
  • May be mild to severe illness.
  • In first week may be exanthematous rash for 1-2 days, general or localised to trunk or shins.
  • Transient remission may be followed by aseptic meningitis and renal failure.
  • Severe disease: illness progresses from initial symptoms. Renal failure in 7-10 days. Sometimes skin/muscle haemorrhage, jaundice (appears at 4-9 days), haemoptysis (coughing-up blood), myocarditis, liver failure.
  • Fatal if untreated; mortality rate with serovars causing severe disease (e.g. Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiae, Leptospira copenhageni) may be 5-40%.
  • Infection during pregnancy may lead to intrauterine infection of the fetus and fetal death.
  • Convalescence from meningitis may be prolonged.
(P23.1999S.w5)
The possibility of exposure to Leptospira spp. organisms should always be considered when there is a human exposure (direct or via a contaminated environment) to urine from wild animals which may carry these organisms. (P23.1999S.w5)

Bears:

  • Leptospirosis has been apparently transmitted from an infected polar bear cub to keepers. The clinical signs in the keepers included nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, myalgia, anorexia, chills, sore throat, joint and neck pain and abdominal pain. (P1.1975.w1, B16.9.w9)
    • The keepers had high positive titres to Leptospira ballum, Leptospira copenhagi and Leptospira mankarso (compatible with infection by a member of the Icterohaemorrhagiae serogroup); while from the urine of one of the men, leptospirae of the icterohaemorrhagica serogroup were cultured. (P1.1975.w1)

Ferrets:

  • Leptospirosis in ferrets is thought to be zoonotic. (B627.14.w14, B629.13.w13)

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Susceptibility / Transmission

General information on Susceptibility / Transmission

Transmission
  • Mainly through mucous membranes or abraded skin but may also be from drinking water containing the organism, or eating infected animals; organism is found in urine or in urine-contaminated water/feed. (B58.30.w30, B101)
  • The brown rat (Rattus norvegicus - Brown rat) has been recognised as a major source of Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiae for about 80 years. (P23.1999S.w5)

HEDGEHOGS Susceptibility
  • Since infection by more than one serotype is common, it has been suggested that either hedgehogs may be extremely susceptible to leptospiral infection or that infection may increase susceptibility to infection with a second serotype. (J9.180.w1)
BEARS
  • The polar bear cub may have been infected by exposure to wild rats, or by asymptomatic shedding by adult bears. (P1.1975.w1)
LAGOMORPHS
Susceptibility
  • Leptospirosis has not been reported in the domestic rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus domesticus); however, wild lagomorphs are susceptible to this disease and may act as an important reservoir. (B614.8.w8)
Transmission
FERRETS
Susceptibility
  • There are few reports for leptospirosis in ferrets, but it is possible for ferrets to contract the disease when exposed to leptospires. (J215.23.w1)
Transmission
  • Leptospirosis can be carried in rodent urine. (B627.14.w14)
  • Host species are generally rats and gerbils. (B631.4.w4)

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Disease has been reported in either the wild or in captivity in:

  • Dogs.

Infection also reported in:

Hedgehogs:

  • Leptospira bratislava isolated from an a hedgehog caught in Scotland. (J98.1960i.w1)
  • Leptospira australis A commonest type found in hedgehogs in Czechoslovakia. (J98.1960i.w1)
  • Leptospira bratislava isolated from hedgehogs from Surrey (England), Dyfyd (Wales) and Northern Ireland. (J21.35.w1)
  • Australis group Leptospira isolated from one of three wild hedgehogs in England. (J21.22.w3)
  • Leptospira bratislava isolated from wild hedgehogs in Denmark. (J1.8.w1)
  • Leptospira ballum antibodies detected by microscopic agglutination test in 9/25 wild hedgehogs in New Zealand (Erinaceus europaeus - West European Hedgehog. (J1.17.w8)
  • Leptospira ballum isolated from the kidneys of 5/78 wild health hedgehogs from North Island, New Zealand, where it is a maintenance host for this serovar. (J10.25.w1, J10.29.w1)
  • Serotypes isolated from hedgehogs: 
    • Australis group: bratislava in Erinaceus europaeus in Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, in Erinaceus europaeus europaeus in Italy, UK, former USSR, in Erinaceus europaeus roumanicus in Romania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, in "hedgehog" in Hungary; australis in Erinaceus europaeus in Israel, in Erinaceus europaeus europaeus in Italy and in "hedgehog" in Bulgaria.
    • Autumnalis group: erinacei-auriti in Hemiechinus auritus in former USSR and "hedgehog" in Bulgaria.
    • Ballum group: ballum in Erinaceus europaeus in Israel and ballum sub-serotype arboreae in Erinaceus europaeus europaeus in Italy.
    • Bataviae group: bataviae in Erinaceus europaeus roumanicus in Poland and in "hedgehog" in Bulgaria.
    • Canicola group: canicola in Erinaceus europaeus in Israel and in Hemiechinus auritus in Israel. 
    • Grippotyphosa: grippotyphosa in Erinaceus europaeus roumanicus in Poland and in Hemiechinus auritus in Israel. 
    • Hebdomadis: mini in Erinaceus europaeus in Israel (subtype szwajizak), saxkoebing in Erinaceus europaeus europaeus in Italy (subtype saxkoebing); sejroe subtype sejroe in Erinaceus europaeus roumanicus in Poland and Czechoslovakia; polonica in Erinaceus europaeus roumanicus in Poland, sejroe in Erinaceus europaeus in Denmark; saxkoebing in Erinaceus europaeus in Denmark. 
    • Icterohaemorrhagiae group: icterohaemorrhagiae in Erinaceus europaeus in Denmark and in Erinaceus europaeus roumanicus in Poland; icterohaemorrhagiae subtype icterohaemorrhagiae in Erinaceus europaeus europaeus in Italy.
    • Javanica group: sorex-jalna in Erinaceus europaeus in the Netherlands, in Erinaceus europaeus roumanicus in Poland and Czechoslovakia and in Hemiechinus auritus in Poland; poi in Erinaceus europaeus in Denmark and Erinaceus europaeus europaeus in former USSR. 
    • Pomona group: pomona subtype pomona in Erinaceus europaeus in Denmark and in Erinaceus europaeus roumanicus in Czechoslovakia. 

    (J18.38.w1)

  • Positive agglutination-lysis reactions against Leptospira bratislava in 34/96 hedgehogs (14 strains isolated), against Leptospira sejroe in eight individuals (one strain isolated), against Leptospira pomona in two (one strain isolated), against Leptospira sorex-jalna in two individuals (one strain isolated) and against Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiae in two individuals. (J141.9.w1)
  • Serological reactions to Leptospira were demonstrated in 14/114 hedgehogs in Morocco (also in 23/31 pigs, 2/13 horses, 0/4 camels, 2/46 gerbils, 5/37 striped mice, 2/40 rats, 0/3 field-mice, 5/16 terrapins and 17/62 tortoises) The main serotypes detected were icetrhaemorrhagiae, Canicola, grippotyphosa, australis, pomona and erinaceus. (J142.54.w1)
  • 33 strains of leptospires were isolated from 125 hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus tested in the Netherlands, mainly bratislava but with one sorex jalna. Strains were isolated mainly from adults, only two being isolated from animals with body weight less than 500g. Antibodies to these serotypes were detected in 82% of sera and 42% of urine samples from the hedgehogs, while leptospires were seen under dark-field microscopy in 20 kidneys and seven urine samples. (J143.17.w1)
  • From hedgehogs in East Germany for the first time Leptospira bratislava (five strains) and Leptospira poi (three strains) were isolated from hedgehogs. 24% of individuals tested had agglutinating antibodies to various types of leptospires. (additionally 63/280 hares had titres against Leptospira grippotyphosa, with "sporadic" serological reactions against Leptospira pomona and Leptospira grippotyphosa among 131 wild boar, 107 deer and two martens. (J144.25.w1)
  • Positive sera using the micro-agglutination test in 3/17 wild Erinaceus europaeus (also in 11% of 85 Cervus elaphus, 5/109 Capreolus capreolus, 5/9 Vulpes vulpes, 0/32 Rattus norvegicus and 0/10 Mus musculus) in North Tyrol. (J119.23.w1)
  • Erinaceus europaeus in the Azores Archipelago were found to carry Leptospira interrogans (sensu lato) serovars. (J145.13.w1)
  • From Erinaceus europaeus europaeus in the UK: 26/56 seropositive serum samples from Compton, Berkshire, with agglutinins found to five serotypes: bratislava, icterohaemorrhagiae, poi, autumnalis and erinacei. In other individuals, infection was diagnosed in 7/14 animals, including in two by culture, two by dark-field and six by serology. (P17.24.w2)

Elephants:

  • A serological study on 109 Elephas maximus - Asian Elephants from 15 different elephant camps in India (in Tamilnadu, Karnataka and the Andaman Nicobar Islands), showed antibodies in 23 serum samples (21%) against Leptospira interrogans, Leptospira pomona, Leptospira icetrhaemorrhagiae, Leptospira gryppotyphosa, Leptospira hebdomadis, Leptospira hardjo and Leptospira canicola by the microscopic agglutination test. No associated clinical disease was reported in any of these animals. (J12.75.w1)
  • Antibodies against Leptospira volbuzzi were detected in two apparently healthy Elephas maximus - Asian Elephants in India. (P502.1.w1)

Bears:

Lagomorphs:

  • Infection has been confirmed in rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus - European rabbit). (P23.1999S.w5)
    • However there have been no reports of infection in domestic rabbits. (B614.8.w8)
  • In the UK, 10/24 male Oryctolagus cuniculus - European rabbits from Skokholm Island, Pembrokeshire were infected (detected histologically, i.e. leptospires in kidney tubules, four of which were also seropositive -three to Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiae and one to Leptospira bataviae. Additionally, 9/33 females were histologically positive, of which two were seropositive to Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiae. All 16 rabbits from a site in Buckinghamshire were negative. Out of 225 Lepus europaeus - Brown hares from the Berkshire Downs, 42 were seropositive, most commonly to Leptospira bataviae (25) and Leptospira canicola (21), but also to Leptospira pomona (9), Leptospira  bratislava (4) and Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiae (2). From Balsham, Suffolk, 20/61 were found to be infected, with two having kidney tubule colonies while 18 others were seropositive. From Bartlaw, Norfolk, 9/26 females and 0/7 males were seropositive. Serotypes to which antibodies were found in these two locations included Leptospira canicola (25), Leptospira bataviae (16), Leptospira grippotyphosa (3), Leptospira poi (1) and Leptospira saxkoebing (1). A female hare from Egham, Surrey had titres of 1:30 to both Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiae and to Leptospira pomona. (P17.24.w2)
  • Serological surveys have revealed the disease is prevalent in some populations from the southeastern United States including cottontails (Sylvilagus (Genus)) and Sylvilagus aquaticus - Swamp rabbit. [1971] (B614.8.w8)
  • Up to 40% of Lepus europaeus - Brown hares found in local populations in the Netherlands are reported to have antibodies to Leptospira interrogans serovar grippotyphosa. [1980] (B614.8.w8)

Ferrets:

  • Infection occurs in ferrets. (B626.8.w8, B631.4.w4)

Host Species List

Lagomorphs:

(List does not contain all other species groups affected by this infectious agent)

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Disease has been specifically reported in Free-ranging populations of:

Infection also reported in:

Hedgehogs:

  • Leptospira bratislava isolated from a hedgehog caught in Scotland. (J98.1960i.w1)
  • Leptospira australis A commonest type found in hedgehogs in Czechoslovakia. (J98.1960i.w1)
  • Leptospira bratislava isolated from hedgehogs from Surrey (England), Dyfyd (Wales) and Northern Ireland. (J21.35.w1)
  • Australis group Leptospira isolated from one of three wild hedgehogs in England. (J21.22.w3)
  • Leptospira bratislava isolated from wild hedgehogs in Denmark. (J1.8.w1)
  • Leptospira ballum antibodies detected by microscopic agglutination test in 9/25 wild hedgehogs in New Zealand (Erinaceus europaeus - West European Hedgehog. (J1.17.w8)
  • Leptospira ballum isolated from the kidneys of 5/78 wild health hedgehogs from North Island, New Zealand, where it is a maintenance host for this serovar. (J10.25.w1, J10.29.w1)
  • Serotypes isolated from hedgehogs include: 
    • Australis group: bratislava in Erinaceus europaeus in Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, in Erinaceus europaeus europaeus in Italy, UK, former USSR, in Erinaceus europaeus roumanicus in Romania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, in "hedgehog" in Hungary; australis in Erinaceus europaeus in Israel, in Erinaceus europaeus europaeus in Italy and in "hedgehog" in Bulgaria.
    • Autumnalis group: erinacei-auriti in Hemiechinus auritus in former USSR and "hedgehog" in Bulgaria.
    • Ballum group: ballum in Erinaceus europaeus in Israel and ballum sub-serotype arboreae in Erinaceus europaeus europaeus in Italy.
    • Bataviae group: bataviae in Erinaceus europaeus roumanicus in Poland and in "hedgehog" in Bulgaria.
    • Canicola group: canicola in Erinaceus europaeus in Israel and in Hemiechinus auritus in Israel. 
    • Grippotyphosa: grippotyphosa in Erinaceus europaeus roumanicus in Poland and in Hemiechinus auritus in Israel. 
    • Hebdomadis: mini in Erinaceus europaeus in Israel (subtype szwajizak), saxkoebing in Erinaceus europaeus europaeus in Italy (subtype saxkoebing); sejroe subtype sejroe in Erinaceus europaeus roumanicus in Poland and Czechoslovakia; polonica in Erinaceus europaeus roumanicus in Poland, sejroe in Erinaceus europaeus in Denmark; saxkoebing in Erinaceus europaeus in Denmark. 
    • Icterohaemorrhagiae group: icterohaemorrhagiae in Erinaceus europaeus in Denmark and in Erinaceus europaeus roumanicus in Poland; icterohaemorrhagiae subtype icterohaemorrhagiae in Erinaceus europaeus europaeus in Italy.
    • Javanica group: sorex-jalna in Erinaceus europaeus in the Netherlands, in Erinaceus europaeus roumanicus in Poland and Czechoslovakia and in Hemiechinus auritus in Poland; poi in Erinaceus europaeus in Denmark and Erinaceus europaeus europaeus in former USSR. 
    • Pomona group: pomona subtype pomona in Erinaceus europaeus in Denmark and in Erinaceus europaeus roumanicus in Czechoslovakia. 

    (J18.38.w1)

  • Positive agglutination-lysis reactions against Leptospira bratislava in 34/96 hedgehogs (14 strains isolated), against Leptospira sejroe in eight individuals (one strain isolated), against Leptospira pomona in two (one strain isolated), against Leptospira sorex-jalna in two individuals (one strain isolated) and against Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiae in two individuals.(J141.9.w1)
  • Serological reactions to Leptospira were demonstrated in 14/114 hedgehogs in Morocco (also in 23/31 pigs, 2/13 horses, 0/4 camels, 2/46 gerbils, 5/37 striped mice, 2/40 rats, 0/3 field-mice, 5/16 terrapins and 17/62 tortoises) The main serotypes detected were icetrhaemorrhagiae, Canicola, grippotyphosa, australis, pomona and erinaceus. (J142.54.w1)
  • 33 strains of leptospires were isolated from 125 hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus tested in the Netherlands, mainly bratislava but with one sorex jalna. Strains were isolated mainly from adults, only two being isolated from animals with body weight less than 500g. Antibodies to these serotypes were detected in 82% of sera and 42% of urine samples from the hedgehogs, while leptospires were seen under dark-field microscopy in 20 kidneys and seven urine samples. (J143.17.w1)
  • From hedgehogs in East Germany for the first time Leptospira bratislava (five strains) and Leptospira poi (three strains) were isolated from hedgehogs. 24% of individuals tested had agglutinating antibodies to various types of leptospires. (additionally 63/280 hares had titres against Leptospira grippotyphosa, with "sporadic" serological reactions against Leptospira pomona and Leptospira grippotyphosa among 131 wild boar, 107 deer and two martens. (J144.25.w1)
  • Positive sera using the micro-agglutination test in 3/17 wild Erinaceus europaeus (also in 11% of 85 Cervus elaphus, 5/109 Capreolus capreolus, 5/9 Vulpes vulpes, 0/32 Rattus norvegicus and 0/10 Mus musculus) in North Tyrol. (J119.23.w1)
  • Erinaceus europaeus in the Azores Archipelago were found to carry Leptospira interrogans (sensu lato) serovars. (J145.13.w1)
  • From Erinaceus europaeus europaeus in the UK: 26/56 seropositive serum samples from Compton, Berkshire, with agglutinins found to five serotypes: bratislava, icterohaemorrhagiae, poi, autumnalis and erinacei. In other individuals, infection was diagnosed in 7/14 animals, including in two by culture, two by dark-field and six by serology. (P17.24.w2)

Bears

  • A seroprevalence of 40% for Leptospira interrogans was reported in Croatia from 42 free-ranging Ursus arctos - Brown bear. (J1.29.w12) 
  • A survey of Ursus americanus - American black bears in Florida, 1980-1987, detected antibodies to Leptospira interrogans in a three-year-old male from Columbia/Baker counties (1:50 titre against serovar icterohaemorrhagiae). (B419.14.w14)

Lagomorphs:

Further information on Host species has only been incorporated for species groups for which a full Wildpro "Health and Management" module has been completed (i.e. for which a comprehensive literature review has been undertaken). Host species with further information available are listed below:

Host Species List

Lagomorphs:

(List does not contain all other species groups affected by this infectious agent)

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Environment/Geography

General Information on Environmental Factors/Events and Seasonality

In dogs infection with serovar icterohaemorrhagiae is more common in young dogs during the summer and autumn. (B47)

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Regions / Countries where the Infectious Agent or Disease has been recorded

  • In hedgehogs: Europe (including the UK), Middle East, North Africa and New Zealand. (J1.17.w8, J10.25.w1, J10.29.w1, J18.38.w1, J142.54.w1)
  • In elephants: Asia. (J12.75.w1)
  • In bears: Alabama, USA and Croatia. (P1.1975.w1, J1.29.w12) 
  • Negative data: In New Zealand, nine ferrets, four weasels and nine stoats from the wild were tested for Leptospirosis. They were all negative despite the fact that there was an endemic infection in wild rats and mice. (B627.14.w14)

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Regions / Countries where the Infectious Agent or Disease has been recorded in Free-ranging populations

  • In hedgehogs: Europe (including the UK), Middle East, North Africa and New Zealand. (J1.17.w8, J10.25.w1, J10.29.w1, J18.38.w1, J142.54.w1)
  • In bears: Croatia. (J1.29.w12) 

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General Investigation / Diagnosis

General Information on Investigation / Diagnosis

Appropriate clinical signs in combination with demonstration of leptospires in urine or tissues and/or serology. (B283)
  • Examination of body or tissue fluids from an acutely infected animal by dark-field microscopy (only useful if large numbers of leptospires are present).
  • Fluorescent antibody staining (e.g. of urinary sediments,  liver or kidney preparations from aborted fetuses, impression smears, tissue sections).
  • Immunoperoxidase staining (rapid) or silver impregnation staining.
  • Blood culture (during the acute phase) in Fletcher medium, Stuart broth or Ellinghausen medium.
  • Animal inoculation (into weanling hamsters or guinea pigs)
  • Detection of antibodies by e.g. ELISA or microscopic agglutination test (four-fold or greater increase in titre between acute and convalescent phase serum samples). 

    (B47)

BEARS
  • Serological titres in association with compatible clinical signs. (P1.1975.w1)
FERRETS
  • Leptospires are more likely to grow in fluid or semi-solid media between 28 and 30 C . (B631.4.w4)
  • Dark field or phase contrast microscopy will show coiled organisms, which can be stained with silver dye. (B631.4.w4)
  • Serological testing can be used to diagnose leptospirosis. (B631.4.w4)
Related Techniques
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Similar Diseases (Differential Diagnosis)

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HEDGEHOGS --
BEARS --
FERRETS --

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Treatment and Control

Specific Medical Treatment

  • Antimicrobial drugs such as penicillins, aminoglycosides, erythromycin, tetracyclines. (B209.28.w28)
  • May not completely eliminate infection. (B209.28.w28)
HEDGEHOGS --
BEARS
  • In a Ursus maritimus - Polar bear cub, treatment involved parental chloramphenicol, 250 mg three times daily for six days, together with supportive treatment as indicated below. (B16.9.w9, P1.1975.w1)
    • Full clinical recovery took a month. (P1.1975.w1)
FERRETS
  • Penicillin G can be given intramuscularly, 40 000 international units per kg every 24 hours or divide every 12 hours. The penicillin should be given until the kidney function returns. (B626.8.w8)
  • Alternatives to penicillin are ampicillin or amoxicillin. (B626.8.w8)
  • Streptomycin can be used if the ferret is not in renal failure. This should be given at no more than 50 mg at twelve hourly intervals. Note: Streptomycin at high doses can be toxic to ferrets.(B626.8.w8)
Related Techniques
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General Nursing and Surgical Techniques

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HEDGEHOGS --
BEARS
  • Supportive treatment in a Ursus maritimus - Polar bear cub (given in addition to antibiotics as indicated above) included weekly iron, folic acid, B12 and B-complex injections. (P1.1975.w1)
    • Full clinical recovery took a month. (P1.1975.w1)
FERRETS --
Related Techniques
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Preventative Measures

Vaccination Vaccines are available for use in cattle, pigs and dogs. (B47)
HEDGEHOGS --
BEARS
  • Vaccination may be advisable. (B407.w18)
  • Annual vaccination is recommended if the bears are exposed to free ranging rodents. (B16.9.w9, P1.1975.w1)
FERRETS
  • There is a vaccination that protects ferrets against leptospirosis. A vaccine, however, has not been recommended for ferrets used for research, commercial use or pets. (B627.14.w14)
Prophylactic Treatment

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HEDGEHOGS --
BEARS --
FERRETS --
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Environmental and Population Control Measures

General Environment Changes, Cleaning and Disinfection
  • General hygiene to minimise transfer of infection from infected urine. (B47)
  • Draining standing water, providing water from uncontaminated sources, excluding maintenance hosts from premises housing species in which the disease is of concern, and general rodent control may reduce risk of infection. (B209.28.w28)

HEDGEHOGS

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BEARS --
FERRETS
  • Feeding ferrets indoors is encouraged, to prevent them catching wild rodents. (B626.8.w8)
  •  Disinfection of the environment should be carried out and good personal hygiene, to reduce the risk of transmitting leptospirosis. (B629.13.w13)
Population Control Measures --
HEDGEHOGS --
BEARS --
FERRETS --
Isolation, Quarantine and Screening
  • Isolate new arrivals to a cattle herd and vaccinate, keeping isolated until antibody titres will have developed. (B47)
HEDGEHOGS --
BEARS --
FERRETS --
Related Techniques
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