Leptospirosis is a serious bacterial disease that can affect not only your domestic dogs and cats, but horses too! Our Ocala veterinarians are here to share the causes, symptoms, and treatments of leptospirosis in horses to equine owners.
What Is Leptospirosis in Horses?
Leptospirosis, often referred to as "Lepto," is a serious bacterial disease that infects mammals through open wounds or mucus membranes (such as the eyes and gums).
Lepto can be transmitted to humans, which means it is zoonotic. Because of this and the potential severity of the disease in horses, lepto is a condition that all horse owners should be aware of so they know how to recognize the signs of it in their horses and how to prevent it in the first place.
Causes of Leptospirosis in Horses
The bacteria which causes lepto can be found in an infected animal's urine or blood. When this urine or blood comes into contact with the open cut of another animal, they can become infected with lepto if not treated immediately. In cases of horses contracting lepto, it is commonly caused by horses eating hay or drinking water that has been contaminated by an infected horse's urine.
This is why, when a horse gets a cut or gash, it should be tended to immediately. Small cuts should be disinfected and possibly bandaged and looked at by a veterinarian. For any sizeable wounds, you should seek veterinary care immediately. You can help prevent a number of diseases by disinfecting and covering cuts right away.
Below are a few common symptoms of leptospirosis in horses:
- Tearing, swelling, and discharge of the eye
- Loss of appetite
- Night blindness
- Cloudy pupils/sclera
- Miscarriage in pregnant horses
- Kidney and liver failure
- In severe cases, death
If you notice any of these signs in your horse, seek veterinary care immediately.
Treatment & Prevention
Leptospirosis in horses treatment varies depending on how long the horse has been infected. If you notice any signs of lepto in your horse, take them to the vet right away to be treated promptly. In-house medical care and sometimes medication may be prescribed.
To help prevent your horse from contracting lepto, there is a relatively newer vaccine available as of 2015. You can get this vaccine for your horse at 6 months of age or older. If you're unsure if the leptospirosis vaccination is right for your horse, consult your veterinarian!