Lepto can cause sickness and bloody urine in calves. In cows, Lepto causes swelling of the udder. Lepto has been linked with major rates of abortion in cattle. Most cattle in the country have anti-bodies of Lepto. The presence of anti-bodies proves that cattle at some point of time or the other have been affected with Lepto. The disease spreads by skin contact or by venereal transmission. Lepto spreads rapidly via the blood-stream to all important tissues.

Common Names

Lepto is also known as Leptospirosis. A number of strains of Lepto have been shown to cause disease in cattle. A previously unrecognized form of the disease has been also found in the US. This Lepto is called "Lepto hardjo-bovis.” The disease is also known by the names of Weil's disease, canicola fever and canefield fever.

Causative Organism

According to experts, there are at least five species of Leptospira, the causative organism. It is a bacterium which is present in the United States. The species most commonly found are L hardjo, L icterohaemorrhagiae, L canicola, L. pomona and L grippotyphosa. Leptospira pomona is the most common organism. The disease had an overall 57% prevalence rate in US in 2005.

Common Symptoms

  1. Eyes may appear yellowish
  2. Failure to eat
  3. Reduced amount of urine
  4. A general feeling of lethargy is found in the animals
  5. Weak and still-born calves
  6. Sudden drop in milk production
  7. Swelling in the udder region

How it Affects Cattle

The chronic form of Lepto affects pregnant cows. This condition causes abortions, stillbirths, or the birth of weak calves. This is the most economically influential form of Lepto in United States. Older animals are not affected by Lepto--it is nursing cows which have to suffer terribly and in turn they produce less milk. The color of the milk becomes yellow and this causes many problems for the farm-owner. Lepto rarely causes a cow to fail to conceive or become pregnant, but the disease can definitely cause the abortion of an established pregnancy.

Regional Impacts

Lepto cases have a relatively distinct seasonality with August through September. The Northern Hemisphere is always found to have more cases than the Southern.

Risks & Dangers

Lepto is usually transmitted to an uninfected animal by the urine of an infected animal. The causative organism can reside in the kidneys of infected animals – which might lead to an irreparable condition. Renal failure and often liver failure can lead to 5-50% of severe Lepto cases being fatal. The numbers may be low but the risks are real.


Antibiotics such as streptomycin and tetracycline can be used to treat animals with acute Lepto. The immediate attention of a veterinarian is advised whenever your cattle start to behave strangely or become sick

Vaccines & Prevention

Prevention through regular herd vaccination is the best approach, but the vaccines are only available for a few strains and they are also said to be effective for only a few months. To ensure that your cattle are protected from Lepto, a regular vaccination program should be undertaken.

References and Resources

Copyright 2015 Cattle.com
P.O. Box 913
Spring Branch, TX 78070