Veterinary Record 168:564 doi:10.1136/vr.d740
  • Research
  • Short Communication

Urinary shedding of spirochaetes in a dog with acute leptospirosis despite treatment

  1. J. E. Nally, BSc, PhD1
  1. School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
  2. Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Backweston, Celbridge, County Kildare, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Schuller, e-mail: simone.schuller{at}

LEPTOSPIROSIS is a zoonosis that is found worldwide and affects most mammalian species, including dogs (Faine and others 1999). The treatment of acute canine leptospirosis often requires intensive management of the affected animal, during which staff may be exposed to Leptospira excreted in the dog's urine. It is commonly assumed that urinary shedding of Leptospira ceases rapidly after the initiation of appropriate antibiotic therapy (Greene 2006). This short communication documents ongoing urinary shedding of spirochaetes in a dog with acute leptospirosis, despite treatment with doxycycline for seven days, highlighting a significant zoonotic risk for carers and owners of infected animals.

A five-year-old entire female labrador, with a known history of hunting rats, was presented to the University Veterinary Hospital, Dublin, Ireland with a five-day history of pyrexia, jaundice, inappetence and vomiting. The dog had been treated with intravenous penicillin for four days before referral and was reported as having been vaccinated against leptospirosis in the past six months (the vaccination record was not available). Physical examination of the dog revealed marked jaundice, approximately 5 per cent dehydration and ptyalism. Haematology revealed mild anaemia (packed cell volume 0.36 l/l, reference range 0.37 to 0.55 l/l; haemoglobin 118 g/l, reference range 120 to 180 g/l; red blood cell count 4.97 × 1012/l, reference range 5.5 × 109 to 8.5 × 1012/l) and leucocytosis (white blood cell count 18 × 109/l, reference range 6 × 109 to 17 × 109/l) due to mature neutrophilia (13.5 × 109/l, reference range 3 …

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