Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Vets warn against deadly dog disease

Animal welfare charity Companion Animal Network Australia (Australia CAN) is urging pet owners to watch for signs of leptospirosis infection, with vets reporting recent exposures to the deadly bacterial disease in NSW and the Northern Territory.

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease affecting both animals and humans that is caused by bacteria found specifically in infected animal tissues and urine. Infection with Leptospira bacteria may cause liver and kidney damage. It can also affect the nervous and respiratory systems, and in extreme cases cause death, according to the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA).

“After weeks of wet weather – with more on the way – and an ongoing mouse plague, we remind pet owners of the risk of leptospirosis as the bacteria can live in water, soil or mud or be carried by rodents,” says CEO of Australia CAN, Trish Ennis.

Last month, NT Health Director of the Centre for Disease Control, Dr Vicki Krause, announced known hotspots for leptospirosis  exposure in the Fogg Dam and Harrison Dam areas in Greater Darwin, rural Darwin, the Katherine district, Finniss River, Tipperary, Daly River and Gunbalanya.

Cases of leptospirosis have also been recently detected in NSW’s Hunter region, Marrickville and the Northern Beaches, claiming two dogs in Sydney and leaving another critically ill.

Outdoor activities with your dog such as walking, camping and swimming may increase the risk of infection, with the bacteria able to enter a dog’s body via cuts or abrasions on the skin, or through mucous membranes in the mouth, nose or eyes, according to the AVA.

Symptoms of leptospirosis may include vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence, jaundice, lethargy, changed frequency of urination and bleeding.

A vaccine is available to prevent leptospirosis. For advice around vaccination and additional preventative measures to reduce the risk of infection, please contact your veterinarian.

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