Foley Laboratory in Infectious Disease Ecology

Risk factors and prevention


For humans, exposure to contaminated water through recreational activities such as swimming, rafting, fishing or gardening can increase the risk of leptospirosis. Certain occupations, such as farming, ranching, and veterinary work also increase the risk of infection as does exposure to wildlife, pets, or livestock.
Pets, especially dogs, can contract leptospirosis through the same mechanisms as humans, and therefore the risk factors are similar. Exposure to water contaminated by rodent or wildlife urine, which can occur even in the urban backyard, is a common cause of infection in pets. It is especially important to identify animals sick with leptospirosis because human transmission can occur during treatment and handling of an infected pet.


Avoiding contact with contaminated water is the best way to prevent infection. There is no vaccine available for humans, but there are vaccines available for dogs and some livestock species.