01480: Leptospirosis: An Emerging Health Concern for Field Trial and Hunting Dogs

Grant Status: Closed

Grant Amount: $73,620
Janet Foley, DVM, PhD; University of California, Davis
January 1, 2011 - December 31, 2013

Sponsor(s): American Miniature Schnauzer Club, Inc., American Shih Tzu Club, Inc., English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association, Flat-Coated Retriever Foundation, Golden Retriever Foundation, Versatility in Poodles, Inc.

Breed(s): -All Dogs
Research Program Area: Immunology and Infectious Disease
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Project Summary

Leptospirosis is a re-emerging infectious disease of dogs, people, and wildlife. Infected dogs may develop acute renal failure but also multiple-organ failure and even death. This is one of the most commonly diagnosed infectious diseases in dogs at UC Davis. We now have vital information about hot spots for risk of canine leptospirosis as well as epidemiological information including breed and vaccination status for affected dogs, exposure routes, and serovars. Importantly, we demonstrate that small dog breeds are indeed vulnerable to leptospirosis and thus vaccine protocols need to include them. We have ongoing surveillance in these hot spots to detect cases in order to obtain bacterial isolates and critical data on patterns of leptospiral infection in blood and urine. One promising aspect of ongoing research is the interaction of canine and wildlife leptospirosis, and whether some wild animals that may enter yards and suburban landscape could be a source of infection to dogs. Our data to date implicate squirrels and skunks, although other wildlife species or domestic farm animal species may be important sources to dogs even in their home yards. Further molecular characterization of infection will help us understand this linkage. The most important jobs in our to-do for Leptospira research at present are to use molecular techniques to understand dog-wildlife risk and to continue surveillance and use molecular approaches to determine the pathophysiology of infection by west-coast strains of Leptospira in dogs.


Hennebelle, J. H., Sykes, J. E., Carpenter, T. E., & Foley, J. (2013). Spatial and temporal patterns of Leptospira infection in dogs from northern California: 67 cases (2001–2010). Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 242(7), 941–947. https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.242.7.941

Hennebelle, J. H., Sykes, J. E., & Foley, J. (2014). Risk Factors Associated with Leptospirosis in Dogs from Northern California: 2001–2010. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, 14(10), 733–739. https://doi.org/10.1089/vbz.2014.1624

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