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Things You Need To Know About Leptospirosis

June 29, 2021




Irrespective of whether you are a pet owner for a long time or you became one just recently, there is one thing in common. All of us only want what is best for our furry friends. However, many pet lovers and owners are unfamiliar with certain bacterial infections that can get transmitted from their four-legged pets to them. One of those is Leptospirosis. Therefore, we are giving you complete information that you, as a pet owner, should know about a disease called Leptospirosis.

What is Leptospirosis?

It is a bacterial disease that can affect not only animals but also humans. Basically, it is an infection that comes from a bacteria named Leptospira. 


How is Leptospirosis transmitted?

The bacteria Leptospira can spread through the urine of infected animals. It can mix into the water or the soil, where it will be able to sustain itself for weeks or even months. Animals can get infected when exposed to the contaminated soil or water as the bacteria can enter through broken skin or the soft tissues inside the mouth, eyes and nose.


Generally, Leptospirosis is not transmitted from person to person. However, it can be transmitted from pets to humans.



Symptoms of Leptospirosis in pets and humans

The clinical symptoms of this disease vary in nature and are not entirely specific. Sometimes, pets may not even have symptoms. However, here are some common clinical Leptospirosis symptoms observed in pets, especially dogs.


  1. Fever and vomiting
  2. Pain in the abdomen and diarrhea
  3. Refusing to eat the food, severe weakness
  4. Dehydration 
  5. Weakness and depression


If your pet is showing any of these signs, it is best to consult a vet. 


Here are the symptoms of Leptospirosis in humans.


  1. High fever and headache
  2. Muscle pain and chills
  3. Jaundice and vomiting
  4. Redness in eyes
  5. Development of rash on skin
  6. Pain in the abdomen, diarrhea, and rashes


In most cases, these symptoms can easily be mistaken for other diseases in humans. Also, some infected people may not show any signs. The Leptospirosis incubation period in humans is approximately 48-96 hours. The illness usually starts with fever. Conventionally, there are two phases of this disease in humans.


After the first phase, which includes the symptoms, the person may recover for some time but will fall sick again. In the second phase, given that it occurs, it is more devastating. The Leptospirosis patient's kidney or liver may fail, or it can even lead to meningitis. The disease lasts for around three weeks, maybe longer. You should know that recovery can take many months without proper Leptospirosis treatment.

Does my dog require a Leptospirosis vaccine in Singapore?

In 2016, the AVA, the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority, reported a drastic spike in dogs with Leptospirosis.  There were zero infected animals in 2014, which shot up to 18 cases in 2016. However, things have stabilised since then.

A dog vaccine for Leptospirosis is therefore not compulsory (a non-core vaccine). However, the vaccine is recommended for dogs that spend more time outdoors or are always exposed to water bodies. Consult your veterinarian to discuss if a Leptospirosis vaccine is required for your dog.

Another thing that you should note is that there is no one Leptospirosis vaccine that is cross-protective against all serovars (subtype). A vaccinated pet can fall ill again, given that it is exposed to a different serovar. 

In Conclusion

We hope that this article will help to keep yourself and your pet safe from Leptospirosis. Following the precautions is essential, and we can infer that vaccination dramatically reduces the risk of contracting Leptospirosis and therefore also its transmission from animals to humans.

 

Our vet, Dr James’ opinion is that the Leptospirosis vaccine is the most important vaccine your dog can get due to the severity of the disease itself, the ease with which your pet can contract it and its zoonotic potential.  


Here are some precautions to follow to do your bit to reduce the transmission of Leptospirosis.


  1. Avoid letting your dog go near potentially contaminated soil or water bodies.
  2. Getting your pet vaccinated for Leptospirosis will significantly reduce the risk of developing this bacterial infection. 
  3. If you discover any rodents at home, proper pest control and disinfection can help minimise the risk of Leptospirosis. 
  4. Always consult a veterinarian if anything seems out of place or if you have any queries!

Click here to learn more about other common dog diseases!

This article is endorsed by perrovets' vet, Dr James Blanshard

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