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Leptospirosis –Transmission and Disinfection



There has been a lot of information and at times misinformation in regard to controlling the spread of Leptospirosis using certain types of cleaners and disinfectants. Because of the unique make up of the Leptospira ssp. there are few if any disinfectant solutions that have been specifically approved by the E.P.A. as effective against this bacteria. The reason for this position is one, the nature in which the bacteria is transmitted and two, how weak the bacteria becomes when separated from its host.


Leptospirosis can be transmitted either directly between hosts or indirectly through the environment. Leptospirosis ssp. can be ingested in contaminated food or water, spread in aerosolized urine or water, or transmitted by direct contact with the skin.The organisms usually enter the body through mucous membranes or abraded skin. They might also be able to penetrate intact skin that has been immersed for a long time in water, although this is controversial.

Leptospira ssp. are excreted in urine of both acutely and chronically infected animals. Chronic carriers may shed these organisms for months or years.

Pathogenic Leptospira ssp. do not multiply outside the host. In the environment, they require high humidity for survival and are killed by dehydration or temperatures greater than 50 C (122 F). These organisms may remain viable in the environment for several months under optimal conditions, e.g., in water or contaminated soils (disinfectants have virtually no impact in these environments). They survive best in bodies of water that are slow-moving or stagnant.


*Leptospira can be inactivated by 1% sodium hypochlorite, 70% ethanol, iodine-based disinfectants, quaternary ammonium disinfectants, accelerated hydrogen peroxide, glutaraldehyde, formaldehyde, detergents and acid. This organism is sensitive to moist heat (121 C –249.8 F for a minimum of 15 minutes). It is also killed by pasteurization


The following procedures and protocols are recommended to help control the spread of Leptospirosis: *From The Center for Food Security & Public Safety -Iowa State University.

  1. Remove standing water and heavy moisture from the area.
  2.  Maintain good air flow, including the use of portable fans in buildings with high humidity, usually resulting from poor air circulation.
  3. Clean daily with a solution of of Kennel Care Enzymatic Floor Cleaner (2 to 4 ounces per gallon of water) or STABLE Environment for equine, large animal and agricultural environments (2 to 4 ounces per gallon water).
  4. For hard surfaces, such as concrete floors, mix a solution of Animal Facility Disinfectant (1 ounce per gallon of water) in a pump-up garden sprayer and thoroughly wet the surface. DO NOT RINSE! Allow the surface to air dry before returning animals to the area.

This article can also be found under the ProVetLogic Pet Disease Bulletins page.

*From The Center for Food Security & Public Safety -Iowa State University.