Advice/resources for horse testing positive with lepto
I have a horse that has tested positive for leptospirosis. He had exposure many years ago & was treated by the previous owner. I was unaware of his condition, I have had him in my care for over 3 years, first as a lease & when the owner got pregnant, she asked if I would take him. I already had him at my barn so I never did a full on prepurchase exam. We did do lameness & flexation was about all.
Anyway, he has been living with this exposure and still titres out with with a low positive. We do not have lepto in our region of the country, so the vets have been very unhelpful, I do not have a vet in the lower 48 that I know to ask these questions of. All of the information that I have been able to get of the net really have more to do with the initial outbreak & causes, but what of the horse living with it after? Mine was never sick, has no symptoms, but still retains the blood serum & this has scared off the buyers.
Can he still get sick this many years later? Can it still be serious?
Any resources or experience would be very helpful, thanks!
Leptospirosis is usually not a majorly clinically significant issue in horses (ie they don't get super sick) however it can cause a recurrent uvitis (moon blindless) that if severe enough can result in permanent loss of vision so keep a close watch on his eyes and get anything eye related treated right away. Another concern regarding lepto is abortions but that shouldn't be a problem for your gelding. :wink:
The big concern about Lepto is that it is zoonotic (can be transmitted from animals to humans) and is mostly spread in urine. This means that you should be careful when cleaning his stall (possibly wear a mask) and wash your hands well after working with him before eating. Hope that helps :-)
Thank you Masquerade. My vet didn't think that the titre numbers were very significant either. He has been living symptom free for more than 4 years at this point, I think everyone, myself included, have not understood fully what we are dealing with. Not many parasite/bacterial/spirulia (sp?) in Alaska.
So, another question for you, I can see by your avitar that you show, would this be a deciding factor in purchasing a show horse if this were the only issue? Meaning he has vetted out sound and all of his x-rays are perfect.
I am not really sure what I am going to say when the next lookie loo comes along, but I will tell them right away. I was unaware of the infection when we got him, it is a complicated story on how we bought him, but needless to say I *thought* I had full disclosure, but alas the books weren't really fully open till now. Got caught with my pants down on this one to say the least!
Unfortunately I would say it could be an important issue if you are trying to sell the horse. If you want to take the horse to shows then you would have to be concerned about your horse shedding the bacteria and infecting other horses (or even people) at the show. There are a few different serotypes (different types of leptospira bacteria that all cause leptospirosis) so the amount that your horse sheds or the level of risk to other horses may be variable depending on the serotype your horse has been infected with.
I realize that it sucks that the horses old owner did not tell you everything you needed to know about this horse but it would be extremely unethical to not tell a future purchaser about this issue. It could also result in legal action if your horse infects another show-goer resulting in illness or an abortion or if a human gets the disease from your horse (not super likely but it is possible).
ETA: After saying all of that, he can live a totally happy life as a "stay-at-home" horse and can be ridden as long as he is not feverish, ill or blind.
I would never omit to share that information with a prospective buyer, I was left with my pants down on this one, the part that isn't significant in this case is how 3 people close to me knew he'd been treated for it, never said anything & it came up on a prepurchase exam with a buyer. At least the vet somewhat came to my aid & said she'd never told me about it personally, so I may not have known when I was disclosing his history.
I am waiting on a clinical opinion from the head of the Infectious disease unit in WA at the moment before I try to sell him again. If he deems him able to infect other horses at this point, or to be able to reinfect himself and get worse, I will have to make some very hard decisions. He is at a farm that breeds. With that being said, we have had all live births from each breeding, so he is not infecting other horses at this time.
I am so sorry to hear that people you trusted lied to you the dishonesty of the horse world never ceases to amaze me! The CDC will be able to steer you in the right direction as they will know way more about this disease than I will. I wish you the best of luck with him and hope it all turns out for you.
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