Leptospirosis, northern beaches: Vaccination rush after dog's death

PRECAUTIONS: Pixie the Jack Russell is among the dogs to get vaccinated against leptospirosis this week, vet Dr Jennifer Wingham says. Picture: Geoff Jones
PRECAUTIONS: Pixie the Jack Russell is among the dogs to get vaccinated against leptospirosis this week, vet Dr Jennifer Wingham says. Picture: Geoff Jones

A FAMILY has been left devastated and there's been a rush on vaccinations with a deadly canine disease in the northern beaches for the first time.

A dog that contracted leptospirosis in late last month died on Tuesday from kidney failure.

"The team at Pittwater Animal Hospital is sad to inform you that one of our very good client's young dog, from the Narrabeen/Elanora area, contracted the serious infectious disease leptospirosis," the clinic said.

"The dog had not been out of area, so contracted leptospirosis on the northern beaches.

"Sadly the dog's condition deteriorated markedly on the 2nd of June and he died at the specialist centre [Northside Emergency Veterinary Service]."

Leptospirosis is spread through the urine of infected mice and rats. Picture: File

Leptospirosis is spread through the urine of infected mice and rats. Picture: File

NEVS veterinarian Dr Anna Dengate said the disease is spread through the urine of mice and rats and is "close 100 per cent fatal" in dogs.

She said while there has been 22 leptospirosis in Sydney during the past two years, none have been in the northern beaches.

"Any dog within a five kilometre radius of Elanora should be vaccinated," Dr Dengate said.

Any dog within a five kilometre radius of Elanora should be vaccinated.

Veterinarian Dr Anna Dengate

She urged dog owners to tip out water at communal dog park bowls and then filling it with fresh water before allowing their dog to drink.

The disease can be transmitted to humans through skin cuts or abrasions, and occasionally through the lining of the mouth, nose, and eyes. Severe cases of the disease can also be fatal in humans.

Dog owners are urged to:

  • Restrict access to puddles of stagnant water where rats may have been
  • Monitor behaviour of known 'ratters' (dogs who hunt for rats, mice and other rodents) such as fox terriers and Jack russells
  • Be vigilant when at off leash exercise where rats and other rodents are known to frequent

Symptoms of leptospirosis in your dog include: lethargy, fever, decreased appetite, vomiting and diarrhea, nose or eye discharge, jaundice (yellowing gums, eyes or skin), and a weakness or reluctance to move from pain.

Mona Vale Veterinary Hospital's Dr Jennifer Wingham said because the symptoms are non-specific, she urged pet owners to get their dog tested if it shows any of these symptoms.

"Be alert and responsible and ease off on the areas where there known rats," she said.

While annual canine vaccinations do cover a range of things, Dr Wingham said leptospirosis is generally not included for northern beaches dogs as the disease is not usually found in this area.

"It's generally considered good medical practice not to over vaccinate dogs and up until now it's been deemed not in the core diseases to vaccinate against," Dr Wingham said.

Contact your local vet for more information.

ALERT ISSUED: Leptospirosis is fatal in "close to 100 per cent fatal", veterinarian Dr Anna Dengate said. Picture: File

ALERT ISSUED: Leptospirosis is fatal in "close to 100 per cent fatal", veterinarian Dr Anna Dengate said. Picture: File

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