Leptospirosis is a contagious disease that can affect both humans and animals. It is spread by infection with Leptospira, bacterial pathogens that can cause liver and kidney disease in dogs. Many dogs have been routinely vaccinated for Lepto in the last 30 years and there has been controversy surrounding the the vaccine. Below is a brief summary of what you need to know about the Lepto vaccine.
- You must vaccinate for Lepto every year or less. Unlike viral vaccines which likely last for the life of the animal, bacterial vaccines, such as Lepto and Bordetella, only last for a year at most. This means if you want to protect your dog from Lepto, the trade off is a dozen or more vaccines in his lifetime, all of which are filled with aluminum and dangerous toxins that have the potential to create autoimmune disease including allergies, cancer, arthritis, digestive issues and more. Every vaccine creates more cumulative damage in your dog and be the one that causes devastating and permanent damage.
- Most Lepto infections in dogs are subclinical. Moreover, of those dogs diagnosed with obvious symptoms, fatalities don’t exceed 10%. Perhaps the fatality rate would be lower if routine vaccination didn’t already stress the liver and kidneys and predispose dogs to becoming symptomatic when exposed to Lepto.
- Lepto vaccines for dogs are now available in two forms. The original vaccines contained only the L. canicola and L. icterohaemorrhagiae serovars; however newer vaccines now contain L. grippotyphosa and L. pomona. This is because there is a resurgence in Lepto and the latter two strains are now much more common. While some scientists are questioning whether the two new strains of Lepto are due to increased migration of wildlife, others speculate that it is caused by the vaccine itself. Vaccines have the ability to cause mutations in viruses and this changes their form and forces us in turn to change our vaccines. As an example, there are five strains of Parvovirus. Interestingly the first strain, CPV-1 that wreaked havoc with dogs in the 1980’s no longer infects dogs. They have become immune to this strain through naturally acquired or herd immunity. This strain is still in the environment and there is no vaccine for it – Parvo vaccines cover the more recent CPV-2 strains only. Where did the CDV-2 strains come from? Mutation, likely from parvo vaccination. While scientists were busy creating Parvo vaccines, dogs acquired herd immunity to the original dangerous strain all on their own. Now dogs are only susceptible to the strain of Parvo for which we have a vaccine – is this coincidence? The same may be happening now with Lepto: as we vaccinate for it, the vaccines cause a shift or mutation in the pathogen and, as it adapts, and a new strain develops. Which leads to the last point.
- Vaccinated dogs persistently shed Lepto in their urine and serve as a source of infection for other dogs, wildlife and even humans. The same applies to vaccinated livestock. What this means is that routine Lepto vaccination actually increases the threat of Lepto on the whole. The greater the number of vaccinated animals, the greater the spread of Lepto.
- There is a safe and effective nosode for Lepto. The Cuban government has successfully used homeopathic nosodes to prevent Lepto in its citizens for years. Not only is the Lepto nosode much less expensive than the vaccine, it is also completely safe and doesn’t cause shedding like vaccines do. Since moving from vaccination to nosodes, the Cuban government has seen a decline in the cases of Lepto.
Perhaps it’s short sighted to use vaccination to protect our dogs against Lepto. Whether or not the vaccine protects the individual dog and whether the risks of the Lepto vaccine outweigh the benefits may not be the main points to look at. As scientists start to turn their attention away from sterile labs and toward how vaccines interact in the environment, they are finding that mutations and retroviruses are a very real and dangerous result from vaccination. When you are making vaccine decisions for your dog, please consider the impact on the planet and the other animals that could be affected by your decision. In light of this, it would be nice if dog owners stopped blaming our unvaccinated dogs for the spread of disease. Clearly, they need to reexamine how their vaccinated dog is making the world a more dangerous place.Ford, RB and Schultz, RD. Vaccines and Vaccinations: Issues for the 21st Century. In: JD Bonagura, ed., Kirk’s Current Veterinary Therapy XIII, W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia, 1999. pp. 250-253. Rentko, VT and Ross, LA. Canine Leptospirosis. In: JD Bonagura, ed., Kirk’s Current Veterinary Therapy XI, W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia, 1992. pp. 260-263. Ribotta MJ, et al. Development of an indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for the detection of leptospiral antibodies in dogs. Can J Vet Res. 2000 Jan;64(1):32-7. Mitchell MA, et al. Serologic survey for selected infectious disease agents in raccoons from Illinois. J Wildl Dis. 1999 Apr;35(2):347-55. Carmichael LE. Canine viral vaccines at a turning point–a personal perspective. Adv Vet Med. 1999;41:289-307. Gese EM, et al. Serological survey for diseases in free-ranging coyotes (Canis latrans) in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. J Wildl Dis. 1997 Jan;33(1):47-56. Harkin KR, et al. Canine leptospirosis in New Jersey and Michigan: 17 cases (1990-1995). J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 1996 Nov-Dec;32(6):495-501. Rentko VT, et al. Canine leptospirosis. A retrospective study of 17 cases. J Vet Intern Med. 1992 Jul-Aug;6(4):235-44.