The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) has published comprehensive guidelines to educate practitioners about risk factors, transmission, clinical signs, treatment, and other considerations pertaining to leptospirosis, a bacterial disease that can cause acute renal failure, in-utero infection and abortion, and equine recurrent uveitis in infected horses. 

There are currently more than 35 recognized Leptospira species comprising more than 300 distinct serovars of Leptospira, many of which are capable of infecting both animals and humans. In horses, Leptospira interrogans serovar Pomona type kennewicki is responsible for most cases of clinical disease in North America.

“Leptospirosis is a sporadic but important disease of equids with the potential for substantial impact on breeding farms and horses residing in endemic regions,” said Sally DeNotta, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, clinical assistant professor of large animal internal medicine at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and chair of the AAEP’s Infectious Disease Committee. “We hope these guidelines will support early recognition of the clinical signs of equine leptospirosis and facilitate prompt diagnosis and treatment of affected animals.”

Antimicrobial therapy is often used to treat clinical signs and reduce Leptospira shedding in infected horses. For prevention of leptospirosis infection and abortion in horses residing in endemic regions, an inactivated Leptospira interrogans serovar Pomona type kennewicki vaccine is available and approved for use in healthy horses six months of age and older. 

DeNotta co-authored the Leptospirosis Guidelines with Thomas J. Divers, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, ACVECC, the Rudolph J. and Katharine L. Steffen Professor of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. The guidelines were reviewed and approved by the AAEP’s Infectious Disease Committee and board of directors.

AAEP guidelines for 22 additional equine infectious diseases are also available along with five foreign animal disease guidelines.

About AAEP

The American Association of Equine Practitioners, headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky, was founded in 1954 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to the health and welfare of the horse. Currently, AAEP reaches more than 5 million horse owners through its over 9,000 members worldwide and is actively involved in ethics issues, practice management, research and continuing education in the equine veterinary profession and horse industry.