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© 1978, The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska on behalf of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension. All rights reserved.


Leptospirosis of domestic animals is a very complex disease. This NebGuide examines its diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.


Leptospirosis is an infectious disease of animals and man caused by a spiral-shaped organism (spirochete) of the genus Leptospira. The important serotypes recognized in livestock in the United States include Leptospira pomona, L. canicola, L. icterohaemorrhagiae, L. grippotyphosa and L. hardjo. These organisms have a wide host range, including man. Among domestic animals, swine, cattle, dogs, and horses are most frequently affected. Known wildlife hosts include many of the small rodents, raccoons, foxes, opossums, skunks, deer, and moose.

Because of the nature of the disease, it should not be considered a problem of the individual animal but a problem of a population, either a herd or a species within the area. The disease can be controlled by proper management and the correct use of available vaccines.