Silent canine killer…
Leptospirosis is a disease many dog owners have not heard of. Whilst it is uncommon for canines in Australia to acquire the bacteria there were seven dog deaths last year in New South Wales. 10 of the 11 dogs infected in the last 18mths have died. The bacterial infection (of which there are many types) affects both humans and animals, causing haemorrhages, swelling of the brain and organ failure. The rare bacteria tends to be more common in warm and humid environments like Queensland, Northern Territory and northern NSW. Transmission to canines is usually from rats. There’s no need for alarm as dog owners living in an area where it is likely to occur or where there are documented cases would have the vaccination recommended to them by their vet.
Leptospirosis is also a disease spread from animals to humans.
People having contact with an infected animals, soil or water where the bacteria are present are at greatest risk. Examples may be veterinarians, farmers, abattoir workers and pest control workers. Activities such as swimming or other water sports, camping or gardening could also pose a risk if the bacteria is present. The disease enters both dogs and humans via mucous membranes in the eyes, skin abrasions and through the gums. Water and moist environments allow the bacteria to thrive and during the spate in Sydney, dog owners were warned to avoid allowing their dogs to chase rats, avoid puddles and to wash their hands thoroughly after feeding or touching their pets. Owners were also encouraged to remove food scraps that might attract rodents.
One theory for the spate of cases occurring in Sydney was increased rat movements due to an unprecedented degree of construction. Though this is inconclusive, there was a sudden rise in human cases at the same time.
There is a vaccine available for dogs, but there is no vaccine for humans just yet. Places where there might be traces of rat urine pose the highest risk. Some dogs just love to hunt and eats rats. If you have a ‘ratter’ such as a terrier it’s worth knowing the symptoms of leptospirosis which include lethargia, being abnormally quiet, blood in the urine or developing haemorrhages on the skin.
Leah & Angela OMearaHound Dog Day Care (Specialists in Dog Minding & Dog Boarding, Pet Sitting Brisbane & Doggy Day Care Brisbane)