Leptospirosis is a bacterial urinary infection in rats. Though more common in wild rats, it is highly contagious and quickly transmitted to any pet rat that comes in contact with urine from an infected animal. Leptospirosis can be transmitted to humans (zoonotic) or other animals. It is therefore recommended that a rat or rat colony infected with the disease be euthanized.
Both rats (and humans) with leptospirosis present flu-like symptoms. These include:
- Upper respiratory tract infections
- Nasal discharge
- Loss of appetite and weight
- Increased thirst
This urinary infection is caused by the Leptospira spp. bacterium, and is transmitted by the urine of an infected animal; in this case, a rat.
The veterinarian will diagnose leptospirosis by identifying the Leptospira spp. bacterium through blood and urine tests.
Because of its highly contagious nature, most veterinarians do not recommend treating rats infected with leptospirosis. Instead, euthanasia is generally suggested.
Living and Management
Be sure to clean and thoroughly disinfect the rat's environment.
The only way to prevent leptospirosis infection in your rat is to prevent any contact with wild rats or mice.