**There has been a confirmed case of Leptospirosis in Crows Nest**
Mosman Vet strongly recommends that all dogs living within a 5 kilometre radius of Crows Nest are vaccinated against this fatal bacterial disease.
The 5km radius from Crows Nest incorporates much of Sydney’s Lower North Shore
What is Leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is an infectious disease that is spread through infected rodents, including contact with soil, food, or stagnant water (puddles, ponds, lakes) that have been contaminated with infected rat urine. Infection with Leptospirosis can be acquired through intact mucous membranes (mouth, nose and eyes), as well through contact with broken skin (scratches, abrasions etc.). Bites from infected rodents can also spread this disease.
What Are the Clinical Signs?
Unfortunately, the clinical signs of Leptospirosis can be quite non-specific and relate to a multitude of other disease, which can make it very hard to definitively diagnose. Suspected cases may present with the following signs:
- Anorexia (not eating)
- Pyrexia (elevated body temperature)
- Elevated renal factors (azotaemia)
- Elevated liver enzymes
What vaccine is being recommended for my dog?
The only available vaccine against Leptospirosis in Australia is an annual C2i made by Boehringer Ingelheim. This vaccine protects against the Copenhageni serovar of Leptospirosis as well as virulent canine coronavirus (NOT the COVID-19 we’re dealing with today as humans). Your dog will need an initial C2i vaccine, and then a booster C2i which must be given 2-4 weeks after the first vaccine. The C2i can then be given as an annual injection, and can easily tie in with your dog’s vaccination schedule which protects again Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, and canine cough.
My dog has been vaccinated against Leptospirosis overseas. Do I still need a new vaccination in Australia?
Unfortunately, the strains (or serovars) of Leptospirosis that are vaccinated against overseas are not the strain that we are seeing in the Sydney outbreaks. This means that even if your dog has had an annual Leptospirosis vaccination in another country, they will still need to have an initial vaccine and a booster 2-4 weeks later if they live in Sydney.
What is the Treatment for Leptospirosis?
If we suspect your pet has Leptospirosis, we will take blood and urine samples and send them off for analysis with an external laboratory. The treatment for Leptospirosis is a two-week course of antibiotics. Severe and acute cases may be treated in an intensive care specialist unit as there are grave concerns around rapid kidney failure. Unfortunately the mortality rate in the Sydney-based cases since 2019 has been high. All but one dog have passed away or been euthanised due to the disease.
Can cats get Leptospirosis?
Cats are at far less risk than dogs, in that they can contract Leptospirosis, but they rarely present clinically. However, cats can be silent shedders of Leptospira and can contaminate the environment. There is currently not a vaccine available in Australia to protect cats against Lepto.
What is a Zoonotic disease?
A zoonosis is an infectious disease that can be spread between a non-human animal (like dogs, cats, pigs, rats etc.) to a human. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, and is very resistant in the environment. This means that if we suspect your pet is infected with Leptospirosis, we will insist on being very careful when handling them and their waste products (urine and faeces). Please look after yourself, and remember that good hygiene practices are essential. Wash your hands after petting your dog, and avoid contact with urine and faeces from your pets as much as possible. Please also avoid contact with stagnant water in affected Leptospirosis areas. While there has been no connected human case of Leptospirosis in this Sydney outbreak, it is far better to practice good hygiene and stay safe!
Sydney University is working very hard to find out more information about the current strain and infections of Leptospirosis in Sydney. There is currently a study being undertaken by Dr Christine Griebsch. Please read through the document below for more information about how your dog can help support this study. Your vet may ask for blood and urine samples from your dog to send off, but this is entirely voluntary for the university study.
Posted on 25 August 2020
Last updated on 27 May 2021