Rare Bacterial Infections Reported in Wyoming | Big Horn Basin Media

Rare Bacterial Infections Reported in Wyoming

Written by on September 15, 2023

According to the Wyoming Department of Health and the Wyoming Livestock Board, there have been recent reports of a rare and serious bacterial infection called leptospirosis in Laramie County.

This illness has been diagnosed in several dogs and one human.

The human case of leptospirosis is reported to be the first recorded case in the state of Wyoming. The infected person has a history of occupational exposure to animals, highlighting the potential risks associated with working with animals.

The health organizations are closely monitoring the situation and advising the public to take necessary precautions to avoid exposure to this bacterial infection, especially those who have contact with animals or their waste.

The press release from the Wyoming Department of Health reads:

A rare, potentially serious bacterial infection known as leptospirosis has been recently diagnosed in several dogs and one human in Laramie County, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) and the Wyoming Livestock Board.

The human case is believed to be the state’s first on record. The affected person is an individual with occupational exposure to animals.

“Leptospirosis is extremely rare in humans,” said Dr. Emily Curren, state public health veterinarian with WDH. “But we want to let people know about the potential risk right now, especially local dog owners.”

Leptospirosis is a serious bacterial infection that can lead to kidney damage, liver failure and even death in pets and humans without appropriate treatment. The disease can be passed to humans through the urine of infected animals, or contact with water or soil contaminated with their urine. Many kinds of wild and domestic animals can carry the bacteria including cattle, horses, dogs and rodents.

In humans, leptospirosis can cause a wide range of symptoms including fever, headache, chills, jaundice (yellow skin and eyes) and abdominal pain. Some people may start to feel better for a short time and then develop more severe symptoms.

In pets, leptospirosis may not cause any clinical symptoms or it may cause nonspecific signs including fever, vomiting, refusal to eat and muscle pain. Dr. Hallie Hasel, state veterinarian, urged dog owners, “If you think your pet may have leptospirosis, contact your veterinarian immediately.”

Recommended precautions to help prevent leptospirosis infection include:

  • Wear gloves and practice good hand hygiene if coming in contact with the urine of an infected pet.
  • Dog owners should consult with their veterinarian about vaccinating their dogs for leptospirosis. Leptospirosis vaccine may not have been included with other routine vaccinations.
  • Avoid swimming or wading in water that might be contaminated with animal urine.
  • Reduce rodent habitats around the home, workplace and recreational areas by removing brush, rock piles, junk, cluttered firewood and possible rodent food supplies.

More information about leptospirosis and humans can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/index.html. More information for pet owners can be found at https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/petcare/leptospirosis.

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