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Is a vaccine available for leptospirosis? Is it possible to prevent leptospirosis?

A leptospirosis vaccine is not currently available in the U.S.; however, high-risk workers in some European and Asian countries may have access to a vaccine. Unfortunately, the vaccines are serovar-specific (bacterial-strain specific) and thus do not offer widespread protection as there are over 200 serovars (immunologically distinct types of the bacteria). Some vaccines are available for animals but these, like the human vaccines, are only effective against a narrow range of serovars. In addition, side effects of the vaccine can cause painful swelling. Chemoprophylaxis (using drugs to prevent illness) is possible under certain circumstances. Some individuals who may have high short-time risk (for example, military personnel) may take doxycycline (200 mg/week), beginning one to two days before potential exposure to have about a 95% chance of preventing infection with chemoprophylaxis. This preventive treatment is not recommended for long terms of exposure.

Avoiding contact with animal excrement, good hygiene, and avoiding contaminated water and soil are other ways to reduce the chance of getting leptospirosis.

Dogs, and many other animals, can be infected with leptospirosis. Veterinarians have access to vaccines that can protect (or prevent) leptospirosis in dogs and other animals for at least 12 months. This vaccination may help protect the animals' owners and other local or family owned animals from the disease for approximately one year.

Return to Leptospirosis

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