Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease that affects a wide range of domestic and wild animals worldwide. It is caused by the pathogenic bacterium, Leptospira spp. Cattle have been recognized as incidental hosts of several leptospiral serovars. Leptospiral infection is common in cattle, however most are subclinical, resulting in little to no clinical signs.
Cattle become infected through direct or indirect contact with Leptospira through contaminated soil, drinking water, feed, and bedding. Maintenance hosts (asymptomatic carriers of the infection) may shed Leptospira in the urine for extended periods of time due to chronic infection of the renal tubules.
The incubation period is 2–20 days. Most leptospiral infections in cattle are subclinical. Clinical signs of disease usually last 5–18 days.