Confirmed Human Leptospirosis in NYC

By Shannon Ferguson - Proud Brook Farmer

NYC Department of Health has confirmed 3 cases of human leptospirosis (lepto). Of the three cases, one patient has died as a result of the infection, and the other two have already been released to home care. These cases occurred in three members of the Bronx community of Concourse, all within a single block area. New York City only sees on average 3 human cases a year, making this small outbreak very out of character.

Lepto is a zoonotic disease (meaning it can be passed from one species to another) caused by the bacteria spirochete, and is found worldwide. The spore is carried in the urine of affected animals. This means that areas with standing pools of liquid are the perfect environment for the bacteria to survive, especially in warm and moist environments. The bacteria can enter the body through open wounds or mucous membranes.

Symptoms of Leptospirosis in humans can vary, but all three confirmed cases saw severe illness as well as acute renal and hepatic failure, and needed to be hospitalized for treatment.

Although this disease is more common in animals (canines are diagnosed on average 20 per year in New York City), that is likely because of the vectors that more commonly carry the spore. Rats. Rats and mice are notorious carriers of lepto, and often transfer the the disease on to our canine counterparts via the environment. In dogs, Lepto will cause fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, weakness/stiffness, and anorexia. At this time, no dogs have been diagnosed with Lepto in relation to these human cases.

Leptospirosis can be deadly, but it’s prevention is easier than one might expect; a yearly vaccines to bolster your pet against the dangers of Lepto is available through a licensed veterinarian, and should be discussed.

Thinking of having your dog vaccinated? Check in with a member of our Medical Team today to discuss your options, and schedule your visit today!

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