A warning for our dog owners – veterinarians in the Inner Sydney region have been seeing numerous cases of Leptospirosis in pet dogs over the last 6 weeks. This disease, caused by a bacteria, is not seen very often in suburban Sydney, being more common in rural and semi-rural areas. The reason for the sudden increase in cases in Sydney is not clear, however there is often a surge in cases after periods of high rainfall. It has also been suggested that construction work has displaced populations of rats. Rat urine is the most common source of infection.
Signs of disease can vary greatly. Some dogs die suddenly without showing any obvious signs. More commonly, dogs will develop a high fever, exhibit shivering, muscle tenderness, vomiting and signs of shock. As the disease progresses dogs may develop kidney failure, liver failure, meningitis, heart problems and multiple organ failure. Treatment requires hospitalisation, antibiotic therapy and supportive care. Leptospirosis can have a very high mortality rate.
Of great concern is the fact that Leptospirosis infection can be passed from dogs to people.
There is a vaccine available that is effective against the two most common strains of Leptospirosis. Two injections 3 weeks apart are required to confer protection. We currently have good stocks of the vaccine. If you are concerned we can discuss the vaccine with you and whether you should vaccinate your pet. Cats seem to be much less susceptible to Leptospirosis, and when they do get infected usually only develop a mild illness.