Urgent warning about deadly canine disease spreading across Australia due to lack of vaccine to prevent your pet from getting it
- Dog owners have been warned about the spread of the disease leptospirosis
- Cases have been detected in regions across NSW, Queensland and the NT
- There has been a shortage of vaccines in Australia due to overseas supply issues
Dog owners are being warned about rising cases of leptospirosis as Australia faces a nationwide shortage of vaccines to fight the deadly disease.
Cases of Leptospirosis, a bacterial infection transmitted through rat urine and faeces and potentially fatal to humans, have been detected in NSW, Queensland and the Northern Territory in recent months.
Leptospirosis can kill pets in just 48 hours. It causes organ failure, swelling of the brain and bleeding.
Pet owners are being urged to contact their local vet to see if they are in a leptospirosis ‘hotspot’ and to get their dogs vaccinated as the nation faces a vaccine shortage (stock image)
Dog owners are encouraged to contact their local veterinarian to see if they are in a leptospirosis “hotspot” and to have their pet vaccinated.
Owners should also check their pets for symptoms, which include lethargy, vomiting, gastroenteritis, diarrhea and jaundice or yellow gums.
The warning comes because of a shortage of the Protech C2i vaccine, which protects dogs against the virus.
Daniel Watkins, head of animal health, Boehringer Ingelheim Australia and New Zealand, said the supply issues were due to “specific circumstances at our overseas manufacturing site, including staff capacity issues and distribution challenges”.
“Our veterinary medicine team has been working closely with veterinarians to help them prioritize available doses for the most at-risk animals.”
Sir. Watkins said the vaccine stockpile would be replenished around mid-November and that the focus was on raising awareness of the deadly disease.
‘It is very important for us to raise awareness of leptospirosis among vets and veterinary nurses. We continue to offer professional training and support ongoing research into leptospirosis with the University of Sydney.’
Puppies require two shots of the vaccine at six and nine months, while adult dogs need two doses spread over two to four weeks, followed by a booster every year thereafter.
Leptospirosis starts when bacteria are shed through the urine of infected animals such as rats and transmitted through contaminated water, food or mud (stock image)
Symptoms of the disease include lethargy, vomiting, gastroenteritis, diarrhea and jaundice or yellow gums (stock image)
Dr. Christine Griebsch, senior lecturer, small animal medicine from the University of Sydney, said ‘risk reduction methods’ were essential to prevent leptospirosis infections.
“The bacteria that cause leptospirosis are passed in the urine of infected animals, especially rodents, so it is important to limit contact with urine or areas contaminated with urine.”
“This includes limiting contact with, swimming in and drinking from stagnant water and avoiding contact with potential reservoir hosts such as rodents and livestock, which can be achieved by fencing and rodent control,” she said.
Leptospirosis fact sheet
What is leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease in humans and animals. It is caused by Leptospira bacteria found in infected animal urine and animal tissue.
Leptospirosis in humans
People may experience sudden onset of fever, headache, calf tenderness, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, lethargy, arthralgia, eye pain, photophobia, and rash.
This is how you get the diagnosis
Leptospirosis is sometimes misdiagnosed because the symptoms can be non-specific and overlap with many other causes of illness.
A doctor can diagnose leptospirosis through a blood test. Usually, two blood samples taken more than two weeks apart are required to make the diagnosis.
Treatment in humans
Leptospirosis is commonly treated with antibiotics such as doxycycline or penicillin.
Leptospirosis in dogs
Dogs will typically come into contact with the leptospira bacteria in infected water, soil or mud while swimming, passing through or drinking contaminated water
Hunting and sporting dogs, dogs that live near woodlands, and dogs that live on or near farms are at an increased risk of acquiring the bacteria.
Also at increased risk are dogs that have spent time in a kennel.
How to protect your dog from leptospirosis
Do not let your dog drink from standing water or swim in bodies of water that may be contaminated.
There is a vaccine that can help protect your dog from leptospirosis, although vets openly admit that it doesn’t always work
Talk to your vet about whether it might be right for your pet.
Source: NSW Health, PetMed, AJGP and VetStreet