Ireland. It is an endemic disease, meaning that the majority of herds test
positive for it
disease in humans. All those working with stock are potentially
at risk. Clinical signs of the disease in humans are flu-like, with
headaches and fever, occasionally progressing to meningitis.
Leptospirosis As a zoonotic disease, leptospirosis can be
acquired from contact with urine, afterbirth or aborted foetus
of an infected animal. There are two serovars of leptospirosis
commonly found in cattle in Ireland:
from infected animals (new infections or carrier animals)
or by indirect transmission through urine, birth fluids, milk,
contaminated water or other species, eg. sheep. Leptospirosis
is very difficult to eradicate as some cows can become carriers.
Leptospires can also survive for up to six weeks in wet soil and
stagnant water or slow-moving streams.
go unnoticed. The most common clinical signs include:
for the first time;
to low fertility; and
birth of weak calves that die within a few hours of birth.
affected animals (which can prove difficult as often the
infection is present six to 12 weeks before clinical signs
become apparent, eg. low pregnancy rates picked up at
bacteria in the foetus.
The primary vaccination course consists of two injections
of Leptavoid-H four to six weeks apart and, thereafter, an
annual booster before turnout and at least two weeks before
breeding. It is a 2ml dose, given under the skin to all cattle
greater than one month of age. The correct use and timing
of vaccination are vital to their success, always read the
against both strains of Leptospira Hardjo;
improve conception rates where leptospirosis has been
diagnosed as a cause of infertility; and
(to cattle greater than eight months of age).
Ruminant vet adviser, MSD Animal Health