Leptospirosis Confirmed in Kentucky Weanling

Veterinarians from Hagyard Equine Medical Center, in Lexington, Ky., have confirmed leptospirosis in a Kentucky Thoroughbred weanling, according to an Aug. 10 post on the clinic's Facebook page. Christopher Smith, DVM, and Nathan Slovis, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, confirmed the case.

"The weanling was noted to have fever, lethargy, inappetance, and mild elevation of the kidney values noted on blood work," the statement read. "Dr. Smith is currently treating the weanling with penicillin for its kidney disease associated with leptospirosis. Diagnosis was made by convalescent serum titer."

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease found worldwide that affects many species, including horses and people. Horses are infected when bacteria enter through the skin or mucosal membranes of the eye or mouth by contact with infected animals' blood, urine, or tissues. The infection can also occur when horses splash infected urine into their eyes or by eating hay or feed contaminated by infected urine.

Once infected, horses can experience fever, become listless, and/or go off their feed. Owners often see eyes with squinting, blinking, cloudiness, tearing, and swelling. Pregnant mares can lose their foals late in gestation. Adult horses can die of liver and/or kidney failure and might show jaundice in the latter stages of the disease.

Hagyard's post explained that leptospirosis is normally identified in the fall and early winter in Central Kentucky. "It is unusual to diagnose during the summertime," the statement read.

Owners should monitor horses for signs of disease, and consult a veterinarian about leptospirosis if concerns arise.

About the Author

Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, News Editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in three-day eventing with her OTTB, Dorado, and enjoys photography in her spare time.

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