New Zealand


Protect against Leptospirosis

What is Leptospirosis?

Lepto is a disease caused by bacteria that live in many mammals and farm animals. The bacteria live and multiply in the kidneys and are spread via urine and other bodily fluids, such as foetal fluids. They enter a new host via cuts or mucus membranes of the eye, nose and mouth.

Lepto is the most important zoonotic disease in New Zealand and causes serious illness in people, including death. Leptospires thrive in wet conditions and can spread and survive over farmland in floods, in streams with flood irrigation and in boggy areas.

A 2012 study found lepto positive animals on 97% of sheep and beef farms and 76% of deer farms. There is a very good chance your farm and animals could be infected. This high infection rate could affect YOU or your family and workers.


Why you don’t want lepto 

Leptospires live in and damage the kidneys. Lepto can cause extreme sickness and death in sheep, cattle, deer and humans. In animals it also causes production losses- many of which you can’t see.

• In sheep, lepto can lower growth rates, increase fetal loss and cause abortion.

• In deer, lepto can slow growth rates in weaners and lower weaning rates.

• In cattle, lepto can cause abortion, mastitis and sick animals.

 Across all dry stock classes, lepto can make animals very sick and cause death. But most often, the effects of lepto are unseen.

Don't forget 

The cost of human illness can be huge with symptoms ranging from a mild flu to life threatening kidney and liver damage. If you or your farm worker are laid up for a month or more, the cost of replacement labour and medical expenses will be great.

Anything you can do to minimise contact with urine or other bodily fluids and moisture that may have leptospires in it, will decrease the risk to you, other workers and your family.

New Zealand dry stock farmer Matt Wyeth, highlights the need for a robust lepto management plan read more here 


Failure to take all practicable steps to prevent leptospirosis among employees, work contractors or workplace visitors may be considered a breach of the Health & Safety at Work Act for which prosecution may result. It is the responsibility of all people in the workplace to identify and mitigate critical risks. If any staff get leptospirosis this must be reported to WorkSafe as an ‘occupational zoonosis’.

Notify at or 0800 030 040

'Approximately 100% of New Zealand sheep and beef farms are shown to have been infected by Leptospirosis'

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Protect against lepto

Lepto is difficult to eliminate, talk to your vet about a comprehensive lepto management programme to minimise the risk of infection. If any of the following apply to you then your farm is high risk:

  • Autumn calving
  • High spring / summer rainfall
  • Surface water or flooding
  • Cross boundary water ways
  • Contact with unvaccinated cattle, sheep, pigs and deer
  • Off farm grazing
  • Uncontrolled rodent populations


The ideal conditions for survival and transmission of leptospires are warm and wet climatic conditions. Annual revaccination can be timed to be just prior to this period of greatest risk. This will vary by region in NZ and by season, but annual revaccination in late summer/early autumn is generally recommended.


 Vaccinate early from 4 – 6 weeks of age before the calf has a chance to become infected.


Need to be vaccinated at the same time as the breeding herd to maintain protection from their calf vaccinations.


Annual revaccination aims to protect the cow from infertility and abortion related to leptospirosis and protect her unborn calf from becoming infected in utero. Newborn calves will also be protected via maternal antibodies.


Must be sourced from herds that have an up to date vaccination programme.


Early vaccination of calves is vital. Adults require annual vaccination to maintain good immunity and prevent disease and shedding of the leptospires.


There are several vaccines to help control lepto. However, only Ultravac® 7in1 protects against lepto while at the same time protecting against the 5 key clostridial diseases that commonly affect sheep and cattle

  • Blackleg

  • Tetanus

  • Pulpy Kidney

  • Black Disease

  • Malignant Oedema

Ultravac 7in1

For use in Cattle and sheep

Learn more


For use in: Cattle, Sheep, Goats, Deer

Learn more

Leptoshield 3

For use in: Cattle

Learn more

YouTube   Dairy Wellness


Tel:0800 100 109