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Bacterial Infection (Leptospirosis) in Cats



Your cat will need to be hospitalized if it is severely ill from this infection. Fluid therapy will be the primary treatment for reversing any effects of dehydration. If your cat has been vomiting, an anti-vomiting drug, called an antiemetic, may be administered, and a gastric tube can be used to give nourishment if your cat's ability to eat or keep food down is being hindered by the illness. A blood transfusion may also be necessary if your cat has been severely hemorrhaging.


Antibiotics will be prescribed by your veterinarian for a course of at least four weeks, with the type of antibiotic dependent on the stage of infection. Penicillins can be used for initial infections, but they are not effective for eliminating the bacteria once it has reached the carrier stage. Tetracyclines, fluoroquinolones, or similar antibiotics will be prescribed for the carrier stage, since they are better distributed into the bone tissue. Some antibiotics can have side effects that appear serious, especially those drugs that go deeper into the system to eliminate infection. Be sure to read all of the warnings that come with the prescription, and talk to your veterinarian about adverse indications you will need to watch for. Prognosis for recovery is generally positive, barring severe organ damage.


Living and Management


A vaccination for the prevention of the leptospirosis infection is available in some areas. Your veterinarian can advise you on the availability and usefulness of this vaccine. Make sure to inspect kennels before placing your cat in one – the kennel should be kept very clean, and should be free of rodents (look for rodent droppings). Urine from an infected animal should not come into contact with any other animals, or people. Animals that are kept in close quarters are going to be in contact with other animals' urine, even under the best circumstances, so cleanliness needs to be the utmost consideration when choosing your kennel.


Activity should be restricted to cage rest while your cat recovers from the physical trauma of this infection. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, transmissible to humans, and other animals via urine, semen, and post-abortion discharge. While your pet is in the process of being treated, you will need to keep it isolated from children and other pets, and you will need to wear protective latex gloves when handling your pet in any way, or when handling fluid or waste products from your pet. Areas where your pet has urinated, vomited, or has possibly left any other type of fluid should be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly with iodine-based disinfectants or bleach solutions. Gloves should be worn during the cleaning process and disposed of properly afterwards.


Finally, if you do have other pets or children in the home, they may have been infected with the leptospira bacteria and are not yet showing symptoms. It may be worthwhile to have them (and yourself) tested for the presence of the bacteria. It is also important to keep in mind that leptospires may continue to be shed through the urine for several weeks after treatment and apparent recovery from the infection. Appropriate handling practices are the best way to prevent the spread of infection or reinfection.



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