People: Brian Catchpole, David Brodbelt

Dates: October 2018 - November 2023

Background:  Leptospirosis is globally an important re-emerging zoonotic disease. Although it is most prevalent in high temperature and high rainfall environments its of increasing significance even in temperate climates such as Europe (1,2). The Leptospira genus is complex and divided into numerous serovars and serogroups (groups of antigenically similar serovars) (3).  A wide range of mammalian species are affected by leptospirosis including humans, dogs, cows, pigs, horses and wildlife (3,4).  It causes a wide range of clinical disease from acute kidney injury, hepatic failure, bleeding disorders and requires formal diagnostics to confirm disease (4).  

Acute leptospirosis is difficult to diagnose, this is due to the Leptospira genus being very diverse and the currently available tests having numerous drawbacks (4). One of the major issues with the current gold standard test, the microscopic agglutination test (MAT), is being unable to differentiate infected dogs from vaccinated dogs (5). Dogs in the United Kingdom are currently vaccinated with a tetravalent vaccine to provide protection against 4 leptospiral serovars (6). Unfortunately, we still see cases of Leptospirosis in the UK despite this protection. There have not been any large epidemiological studies undertaken to ascertain serovars present amongst dogs in the UK , therefore it is unclear whether the serovars present in vaccine are indeed representative of UK canine leptospirosis. It is likely that there are emerging serovars in the UK due to pet movement and that there will be geographical variance in local serovars (7).     

Aims and objectives: 

The aim of this study is to improve the diagnostics of Leptospirosis in canids through novel bacterial outer membrane targets and to utilise VetCompass™ data to characterise aspects of the epidemiology of Leptospirosis disease and vaccine trends in dogs attending UK practices.

The objectives are:  

1) To evaluate which serovars are being formally diagnosed

2) To evaluate which diagnostics are being utilised for canine leptospirosis

3) To evaluate any risk factors and ‘hot-spots’ for leptospirosis

4) To evaluate vaccine uptake trends    


1) Bharti, A. R., Nally, J. E., Ricaldi, J. N., Matthias, M. A., Diaz, M. M., Lovett, M. A., … Vinetz, J. M. (2003). Leptospirosis: A zoonotic disease of global importance. Lancet Infectious Diseases.

2) Forbes, A. E., Zochowski, W. J., Dubrey, S. W., & Sivaprakasam, V. (2012). Leptospirosis and weil’s disease in the UK. Qjm, 105(12), 1151–1162.

3) Adler, B., & Moctezuma, A. de la P. (2010). Leptospira and leptospirosis. Veterinary Microbiology.

4) Schreier, S., Doungchawee, G., Chadsuthi, S., Triampo, D., & Triampo, W. (2013). Leptospirosis: Current situation and trends of specific laboratory tests. Expert Review of Clinical Immunology, 9(3), 263–280.

5) Schuller, S., Francey, T., Hartmann, K., Hugonnard, M., Kohn, B., Nally, J. E., & Sykes, J. (2015).  ElEuropean consensus statement on leptospirosis in dogs and cats. Journal of Small Animal Practice.

6) Klaasen, H. L. B. M., van der Veen, M., Sutton, D., & Molkenboer, M. J. C. H. (2014). A new tetravalent canine leptospirosis vaccine provides at least 12 months immunity against infection. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, 158(1–2), 26–29.

7) lis, W. A. (2010). Control of canine leptospirosis in Europe: Time for a change? Veterinary Record.

Vet Compass Project Type: Dog

Top of page