Leptospirosis (reproductive disease)


Leptospirosis is a common and contagious disease of cattle. It is caused by an organism called leptospira. Contamination of pasture, drinking water and feed via infected urine of an infected animal is the main source of disease spread. Members of the leptospira species are divided into over 200 different types called serovars. It is transmissible to humans, posing a work place health and safety issue. In humans, it can cause serious, long-term illness.

Clinical signs:

Late-term abortion and stillborn calves, weak, stunted or deformed calves; decline in quantity and quality of milk; occasionally mastitis; bloody, port-wine coloured urine; and rough, dry hair coat.


While some reproductive diseases have highly visible consequences, such as late-term abortions, many work silently with the result unseen for weeks or months. Where, in the absence of a drought or a seasonal feed shortage situation, there has been a dramatic reduction in pregnancy rates, branding rate or weaning rates, or major changes in calving distribution patterns, then the producer should suspect that reproductive disease is present and arrange for veterinary investigations to be done.

Management strategy to prevent disease:

 Vaccine available.

More information on leptospirosis including causes, prevention and treatment can be found on the primefacts factsheet provided by the NSW Department of Primary Industries.