Veterinary Public Health

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Contact Information
Veterinary Public Health Program
313 N Figueroa St. Rm 1127
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel (213) 989-7060
Tel: (877) 747-2243
Fax (213) 481-2375
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Leptospirosis in Animals


Report any Lepto cases to the Veterinary Public Health Program (VPH)

pdf iconLink to reporting form



What is Leptospirosis (Lepto)?

  • Leptospirosis (Lepto) is a disease caused by a  bacteria called Leptospira interrogans.

  • It can infect humans, dogs, rats, mice, raccoons, skunks, opossums, cows, pigs, and many other animals. Leptospirosis is occasionally diagnosed in dogs in LA County.

  • Click here to learn more about Lepto in people.


How is Lepto transmitted to people/animals?

  • Infection occurs when the urine of an infected animal contacts the eyes, nose, mouth, or broken skin of another animal or person.

  • Exposure to water or mud contaminated with urine may also spread it.

  • In the United States, most human cases of Lepto occur after recreational exposure to contaminated lakes or streams, not from dogs. However, the bacteria is in the urine of an infected dog. Therefore a person caring for a dog with Lepto should wear gloves, especially when cleaning up urine.


What are symptoms of Lepto?

  • In dogs: symptoms look like many other diseases, and often include fever, lethargy, low appetite, vomiting, and sometimes diarrhea. Yellowed mucus membranes and increased (or decreased) thirst and urination may be seen.

  • In humans: Lepto causes a wide range of symptoms. Some infected people may have no symptoms. Others may have high fever, severe headache, and muscle aches. In severe cases, people may have jaundice (yellow skin and eyes) from liver failure. Severe disease may also cause kidney damage and respiratory distress.


What is the treatment for Lepto?

  • Veterinarians treat infected pets by administering specific antibiotics that can kill the bacteria. 

  • Most dogs with Lepto are seriously ill, should be treated in a veterinary hospital.


What should I do to protect myself from Lepto?

  • Wildlife Control

    • Do not attract wildlife to your yard

    • Do not leave your pet's food and water outside at night. 

    • If you have water outdoors for your pet during the day, change your pet's water daily in case it was contaminated by the urine of wild animals. 

    • If you suspect a rat or mouse infestation in your house, consult an exterminator.

  • Consider vaccinating your dog for Lepto

    • Local data suggest that a variety of Leptospira serotypes (strains) of bacteria may have caused illness in dogs.

    • Therefore the 4-way vaccines (protecting against 4 strains of the bacteria) are a better choice for protection than the 2-way vaccines.




  • Lepto cases appear to be rising in the past few years

  • The most common wildlife reported to be seen in the yards of dogs with Lepto are: raccoons.

  • Between 2005 and 2013, Lepto reports were received by the Veterinary Public Health Program (VPH) from local veterinarians.

  • Starting in 2014, VPH also received electronic reports of positive Lepto cases from veterinary diagnostic laboratories. Therefore, data from 2014 cannot directly compare to earlier data.

  • The data on this webpage is updated twice per year.

  • For more information on the case definitions used by VPH, visit the following link: VPH's Surveillance page.


Current data:

(click for larger image)
Link to lepto map
Lepto data 2005-2014


Click below for more information on Lepto data:

          Lepto data 2005-2014 - More detail




Lepto in California - California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Lepto page


Lepto in the US - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Lepto page


For physicians - Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Acute Communicable Disease Control (ACDC) Lepto page


Other useful information

          2004 - Reemerging Leptospirosis, California (Scientific article)

          2006 -  Canine Leptospirosis, United States, 2002-2004 (Scientific article)


Flyers and brochures

          Leptospirosis Fact Sheet (CDC) - pdf iconEnglish  pdf iconEspañol 

Last updated: February 10, 2016

Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.
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