Michigan Animal Health Update Issue 4


Issue 4, November - December 2015

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Leptospirosis in Michigan

What You Need to Know


Leptospirosis – a disease caused by infection with Leptospira bacteria – can cause serious, potentially life-threatening disease in animals and people. In Michigan, Leptospirosis is reportable to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for cattle, dogs, horses, rodents and swine. Cases of leptospirosis have been on the rise both statewide and across the nation. For the past several years, Michigan has averaged approximately 70 cases of leptospirosis each year, most commonly in dogs and, on occasion, horses. Most of the reported cases of leptospirosis each year stem from Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties. To date in 2015, 66 percent of the cases have been reported from these counties. Peak times for leptospirosis cases are between spring and fall, particularly during periods of heavy rain. As of December 7, 2015, there have been a total of 69 reported cases of Leptospirosis in Michigan animals, 67 dogs and two horses, from 16 different counties. You can find a current case map of the Leptospirosis cases on our emerging disease websiteWhen responding to leptospirosis cases, MDARD’s goals are to ensure animal owners are aware that leptospirosis is contagious to people, to collect data on disease cases, as well as to educate the public on ways to control and prevent the spread of the disease to other animals. As part of a disease investigation, MDARD also attempts to determine if other animals were exposed to the reported animal, as well as from where the reported animal may have acquired Leptospirosis. Based on reported information, typical leptospirosis serovars identified in Michigan include Grippotyphosa and Icterohaemorrhagiae, although Bratislava has been reported occasionally. Grippotyphosa and Bratislava serovars are often associated with exposure to wildlife such as raccoons, opposums and skunks, whereas icterohaemorrhagiae is often linked with exposure to rodents such as rats. Dogs appear to mostly be exposed to leptospirosis in their yards or community. Of the canine cases reported, most animals do not have a history of travel and are deemed “indoor-only” dogs.  In almost all reported cases, the animals are not currently vaccinated against leptospirosis. Common clinical signs reported for dogs include lethargy, vomiting, not eating, not drinking, diarrhea and/or a yellow appearance to the animal. For horses, it can include eye drainage, a squinty eye and/or a constricted pupil. As a reminder, there is a vaccination available for dogs protecting against the Canicola, Grippotyphosa, Icterohaemorrhagiae and Pomona serovars of leptospirosis and a vaccination which protects horses against the Pomona serovar of leptospirosis. It is important to note anyone who suspects or has confirmed a reportable disease, is to report it to MDARD. While some laboratories may report information to MDARD, not all laboratories report and additional information is also typically needed beyond what is provided in a laboratory report. For more information or to report a case of leptospirosis, contact MDARD at 1-800-292-3939.

Hot Topic:

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Preparations


As 2015 wraps up and we head into winter, concern for the possibility of a return of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in the U.S still remains a primary concern. Generally, heightened findings of influenza viruses in wild birds will begin in winter and go through spring as birds comingle and migrate south, and cold weather helps keep the virus alive. This November, the Pacific Flyway had a major avian influenza finding when a wild mallard duck was found positive for a Eurasian H5 in Oregon (the pathogenicity was not able to be determined). The last case of HPAI in domestic birds was documented in June, however, the domestic population is always at risk of influenza infection from wild birds who are a mostly unaffected, natural host. AID continues to encourage veterinarians to talk to their bird-owning clients about the importance of biosecurity (especially those with backyard chickens or turkeys). Veterinarians should advise all poultry owners to restrict access to their flock; keep all other poultry, people and wild birds away; clean and disinfect equipment regularly and don’t share equipment with other flock owners. HPAI has been top priority for AID who has been working with farmers, local health departments and emergency management in key poultry regions to prepare for the possibility of infection. For more information avian influenza visit our avian influenza page here. A shareable graphic with key symptoms to watch for is also available on our facebook page to share with your clients. If you suspect that birds have avian influenza, you can reach our office at 800-292-3939 or 517-373-0440 (after hour emergencies only).

Program Spotlight:

Dr. Michele Schalow - Companion Animal Disease


The AID Companion Animal Disease Program is managed by Dr. Michele Schalow who assists the public daily in understanding the laws and regulations related to companion animals, responds to disease investigations and reviews cases of illegal importation of companion animals. There are approximately 20 dog and 13 cat diseases reportable to MDARD. The Companion Animal Disease Program receives these reports and works to minimize the spread of these diseases to other domestic animals as well as humans. Typically, 100-150 disease investigations are conducted each year and most commonly they involve Leptospirosis, Rabies, Brucellosis and toxicities. In addition, diseases like Rabies and Brucellosis involve working with both local and state health departments to investigate possible zoonotic transmission. The AID Companion Animal Disease Program is just one way AID works to protect Michigan’s pet population, their owners and the companion animal industry.

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Put it on the Calendar:

2016 Michigan Veterinary Conference 

January 29-31, 2016

More Information




Contact the Animal Industry Division:

Constitution Hall
525 West Allegan Street
6th Floor, P.O. Box 30017
Lansing, MI 48909


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