Leptospirosis in horses

Ashutosh Verma, Brian Stevenson, Ben Adler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Leptospirosis in horses has been considered a relatively uncommon infection. However, recent data suggest that the infection is widespread, with the incidence and infecting serovars varying considerably in different geographical regions. The majority of infections remain asymptomatic. Clinical signs in equine leptospirosis resemble those seen in other animal species. However, leptospirosis as a cause of acute respiratory distress is becoming more frequently recognised. A particular feature of equine leptospirosis is post infection recurrent uveitis (moon blindness or periodic ophthalmia), which appears to be mediated by autoimmune mechanisms involving cross reactivity between ocular tissues and leptospiral membrane proteins. There are no leptospiral vaccines licensed for use in horses, with no prospect for any becoming available in the foreseeable future. Accordingly, prevention of equine leptospirosis must rely on good hygiene practices, minimisation of rodent contact, and vaccination of other species of production and companion animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-66
Number of pages6
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Nov 29 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Original research in the authors’ laboratories was funded by the Australian Research Council , and by a Merit Award from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine . We thank Murray Hazlett for providing the picture of equine foetal liver section, and John Prescott, Fernanda Castillo, Oscar Illanes, Janet Beeler, John Dascanio for helpful comments.


  • Horses
  • Leptospirosis
  • Pathogenesis
  • Uveitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • General Veterinary


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