Canis ISSN: 2398-2942

Leptospira icterohemorrhagiae

Synonym(s): L. interrogans serovar. icterohemorrhagiaeL. icterohemorrhagiae

Contributor(s): Melissa Kennedy




  • Order: Spirochaetales.
  • Family: Leptospiraceae.
  • Genus: Leptospira.
  • Species: interrogans.
  • Serovar: icterohemorrhagiae.


  • Gk: lepto - thin, narrow; spira - a coil.
  • Gk: ikteros - jaundice; haima - blood; rhegnunai - to break, burst.

Active Forms

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Clinical Effects



  • Inhabits the tubules of mammalian kidneys.
  • Main reservoir hosts are rats.
  • Also found in dogs, cattle, pigs and wildlife.


  • Long generation time (12 hours).


  • Transmitted via contact of mucous membranes or skin with urine-contaminated water, fomites, or feed.
  • Milk from acutely infected cows, and genital excretions from cattle and pigs are also sources of infection.

Pathological effects

  • Antibodies important for clearance.
  • Rats are the chief reservoir of this serovar; dogs, cattle and pigs are alternatives.
  • In cattle, may cause hemoglobinuria, jaundice and fever; less commonly in young adults.
  • In pigs, causes infertility, abortions and stillbirths.
  • In dogs, causes acute hemorrhagic disease with high fever, vomiting and often early death.
  • May also cause less intense icteric disease in dogs.


Control via animal

  • Antibiotics are used to treat infection and to eliminate the carrier state.
  • Vaccination is generally effective against disease, but not against infection or carriage.

Control via chemotherapies

  • Susceptible to penicillin Benzylpenicillin , tetracycline Tetracycline , chloramphenicol, streptomycin and erythromycin Erythromycin.
  • Treatment must be instituted early in the course of infection.
  • Antibiotics are effective in reducing shedding, treating carriers, and can be used prophylactically after known exposure.

Control via environment

  • Avoid contact with contaminated water, especially near rodent habitats.


  • Serovar-specific vaccination is available against L. icterohemorrhagiae.
  • Annual boosters are required.
  • Vaccination provides protection against disease, but not against infection or shedding.


This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Rentko V T, Clark N, Ross L A et al (1992) Canine leptospirosis. A retrospective study of 17 cases. J Vet Intern Med (4), 235-244 PubMed.
  • Venkataraman K S & Nedunchelliyan S (1992) Epidemiology of an outbreak of leptospirosis in man and dog. Comp Immunol Microbiol Infect Disease 15 (4), 243-247 PubMed.