Vet Students at Low Risk of Getting Leptospirosis 11-Nov-2013

November 11, 2013 10:52 pm

A study into lepto in vet students at Massey, partly funded by Rural Women NZ, has shown students were at a low risk of contracting lepto, despite frequent exposure to potential sources of infection.  It’s all helped paint a picture of the broader occupational risks.  More

The December 2013 of VetScript, NZVA’s publication, included a major feature on Leptospirosis – 14 articles including lepto as a family issue, by Rural Women NZ.  You can read the articles here.

Some stand out statistics:
  • Leptospirosis is the most prevalent occupationally-acquired zoonotic disease in New Zealand, affecting mainly the rural workforce and abattoir workers.
  • It can be passed from any infected mammal to humans through bacteria in the urine.
  • There were 113 notified cases affecting New Zealanders in 2012 with half of these hospitalised. The notified cases are the tip of the iceberg.
  • Based on studies in occupations at risk , modelling and notified cases, it is estimated there are 4,712 cases a year in rural, compared with 189 in urban areas, demonstrating the significant burden lepto places on New Zealanders.
  • 13% of abattoir workers, 4.6% of vets and 5% of farmers have been exposed to this infection.
  • The annual financial cost of working days lost and treatment in New Zealand is estimated at $30.4 million.
  • Loss of livestock production due to disease and mortalities – and in some species sub-optimal growth or reproductive performance – adds to the economic cost.
  • There is a high level of vaccination of dairy cows in NZ, primarily to protect worker health; but vaccination timing is all important. A pilot study showed that early vaccination appears to be a key factor in reducing lepto shedding in long-term vaccinated dairy herds. Further work is under way at Massey to provide farmers with recommendations on best practice for lepto vaccination.
  • Farm working dogs are also at risk of infection and severe disease, and may not be well protected by currently available vaccines
  • Interested in knowing more? Go to You will find links to the presentations we heard under the News tab.

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