Infectious Disease in Michigan

I received a newsletter from the State Veterinary Office this week. It contained some interesting data on infectious diseases in Michigan. We strongly recommend vaccinating against two of these diseases. I get a fair amount of pushback from clients on these recommendations, surprisingly. I’d like to share some of the data with you.


(details here in a prior blog post)

There were 74 cases of Lepto reported in Michigan in 2011. Keep in mind that these are only the cases that veterinarians actually called the state to report. (Reportable diseases are those which require a vet to call the state when diagnosed.) Of those 74 cases, 13 were in Macomb county; 10 were in Oakland county; and 33 were in Wayne county. So, our tri-county area accounted for 56 out of 74 cases. That’s about 75%!

A very wide variety of breeds were affected, but many were small dog breeds. In my experience, these are the dogs that owners insist don’t have exposure because they only go outside very briefly. They’re also the breeds that breeders frequently tell clients should not have lepto vaccinations.

Three quarters of the strains of lepto that caused illness in these cases were strains we can vaccinate for. This means that the affected dogs probably did NOT have the vaccine. (It is possible for a vaccinated dog to still get sick. It’s just unlikely.)

The take-home message here is that dogs in Oakland county need to be vaccinated for Lepto.


From January 1 to August 8 of 2012, there were 45 confirmed cases of Rabies in Michigan. Of those 45 cases, 37 were bats. Eight were skunks. In all of 2011, there were 65 confirmed cases. For 2012, Oakland county has had 2 positive bats and 3 positive skunks. There’s a neat map at this link showing where the positive cases have come from.

Michigan law requires all dogs be vaccinated for rabies. However, there is no law regarding cats. There really is no reason to avoid vaccinating a healthy cat. If a bat gets into the house, the cat will be the first to find it. Cats that go outside are also far more likely to come into contact with other wild animals than the average stay at home dog, so a cat’s risk is high enough to warrant vaccinating for rabies.

Finally, as rabies is frequently a fatal infection in people, the need to protect people by keeping our pets vaccinated is simply the smart thing to do.



Filed under infectious diseases, news, wildlife, zoonotic

2 responses to “Infectious Disease in Michigan

  1. The best protection against lepto comes from vaccinating your animal, but are there other things that we should be aware of ? Like not letting them drink from stagnant water, (i.e. puddles ) after all the rain we have had there is a lot of standing water around. Is this something owners should be careful of or is vaccinating enough ? Linda Hutchinson

  2. Stagnant water, ponds, puddles and so on are good areas for lepto exposure, yes. Avoiding those is the best thing to do. The warmer the weather, the better lepto survives, though. Wet grass, mud, or the urine of infected animals can all transmit lepto as well. Good questions!

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