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Vaccination Important Info  

THE LEPTOSPIROSIS L2-L4 VACCINATION CONTROVERSI

BSAVA (British Small Animal Veterinary Association) Factsheet &

WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) Statement

The disease

Leptospirosis is a disease caused by infection with pathogenic Gram-negative obligate aerobic spirochetes bacteria of the Leptospira genus. These bacteria are found worldwide and can cause clinical disease in most mammals, including cattle, horses, sheep and rodents. Dogs, and less commonly cats, can become infected with leptospirosis, which can cause a range of clinical signs. These signs can range from mild and non-specific, to severe, multi-systemic, fulminant disease that can lead to death. Both dogs and cats can also be asymptomatic shedders of this potential zoonosis (affecting humans) in the urine, so awareness and control of the disease is important from a public health perspective.

The symptoms

Clinical manifestations of disease may vary geographically, depending on the serovars circulating, and are determined by the virulence and load of the infecting serovar, environmental factors and the age and immune status of the host. Dogs that swim in or drink from outdoor water sources and/or hunt wildlife may be at increased risk.

A definitive diagnosis of leptospirosis is difficult and culture of the fastidious leptospires from blood, urine or tissue samples is time-consuming, technically demanding and not routinely available.

Prevention

Vaccination against leptospirosis in dogs is therefore important. BSAVA considers that leptospirosis a core vaccine for dogs in the UK as they are at risk of contact with rodents and potentially contaminated water. Cases have also been identified in urban dogs with no access to wildlife or water sources.

Serological and/or antibody titre testing is not appropriate way of determining protection, as the correlation between antibody levels and protection is poor, and because the antibodies do not persist from a long time. Current evidence suggests that post-vaccinal immunity lasts 12 months. It is not known whether natural infection results in life-long immunity.

Reducing access to potential sources of exposure include ensuring dogs avoid drinking from or wading/swimming in fresh or stagnant water sources and marshland, controlling rodent populations and avoiding hunting or access to wildlife.

What’s in the vaccine?

LEPTOSPIROSIS VACCINATION L2

SEROGROUP

SEROVARS

HOST

RELEVANCE IN EUROPE

Canicola

Canicola

Dog

Still serological evidence of exposure, although cases rare likely due to vaccination.

Icterohaemorrhagiae

Copenhageni, Icterohaemorrhagiae

Rat

One of the most prevalent serogroups and most common recognized cause of clinical leptospirosis in European dogs.

 

 

LEPTOSPIROSIS VACCINATION L4

SEROGROUP

SEROVARS

HOST

RELEVANCE IN EUROPE

Canicola

Canicola

Dog

Still serological evidence of exposure, although cases rare likely due to vaccination.

Interrogans

Copenhageni, Icterohaemorrhagiae

Rodents

One of the most prevalent serogroups and most common recognized cause of clinical leptospirosis in European dogs.

Australis

Bratislava, Lora, Jalna, Muenchen

Pig, horse, dog, rodents, hedgehog.

Evidence of exposure across all of Europe, including UK and Ireland (25 cases reported in 2013).

Grippotyphosa

Grippotyphosa

Rodents

One of the most common causes of leptospirosis in Germany and France. Rare in UK a and Ireland.

 

University of Liverpool has completed a study in 2018 on Prevalence of Leptospirosis in UK and found presence of Leptospira Icterohaemorrhagiae (Interrogans Group) and Bratislava, Jalna, Muenchen (Australis Serogroup). Results presented within the study demonstrate several wild rodent species within England are capable of maintaining and potentially shedding pathogenic strains known to infect both humans and dogs.

WHICH VACCINE?

The European consensus statement recommends the use of annual quadrivalent L4 vaccines for all at-risk dogs based on the widespread recognition of leptospirosis in all European countries.

Decision-making regarding leptospiral vaccination should take into account the following:

? The availability of evidence of serovars in circulation in the locality

  • We don’t know which serovars is present in Norfolk. There are no suggestions though that either Australis or Grippotyphosa are present at today.

? Knowledge of the local area with regard to weather, flooding and environmental risks

  • Flood hot zones in Norfolk are Wymondham, Norwich, King’s Lynn, Great Yarmouth, Dereham, Thetford, North Walsham, Sheringham and Cromer.

? The lifestyle of the dog and travel plans with respect to the risk of exposure to leptospirosis.

  • Drinking often from puddles, walking in woodlands especially near pig farms, travelling to Europe with your dog etc..

? The ability of the vaccine to provide effective coverage against the relevant serogroups and provide protection from clinical disease, renal carriage and urinary shedding.

  • The difference between the L2 and the L4 serovars coverage is shown in the box above.

? The public health aspect, particularly with respect to the owner/family situation.

  • The ‘best protection for the family is to ensure that their dogs are vaccinated annually’.

 

Low risk contamination dogs can be vaccinated with L2 vaccine

High risk contamination dogs are advised to be vaccinated with L4 vaccine.