University of Sydney experts urge all dog owners in the inner city and theinner west to have their dog vaccinated against leptospirosis.

Two cases of leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that is deadly to dogs, havebeen confirmed in the past week – in Newtown and Balmain. Both dogs had beenin contact with rats and were not vaccinated against leptospirosis. One dogsadly had to be euthanised due to severe kidney failure. The other dog isstill in hospital but appears to be recovering.

These are the first cases reported in Newtown and Balmain, and the first casesof leptospirosis seen this year in Sydney. Last year there were eight casesbetween May and November and these dogs lived in Surry Hills, Darlinghurst,Glebe and Redfern.

Dr Christine Griebsch, Senior Lecturer in Small Animal Medicine, from theSchool of Veterinary Science, has issued an alert to all vets to contact theirclients in the area to encourage them to bring their dogs in for leptospirosisvaccination. If you are concerned contact your local vet.

“Importantly, we have not seen any cases which have been vaccinated againstleptospirosis,” Dr Griebsch said. “Therefore, please vaccinate your dogagainst leptospirosis if you live within a 5km radius of Surry Hills, inBalmain or its immediately surrounding suburbs or if your dog is in contactwith rats. A vaccine has to be given twice – the second dose two to four weeksafter the initial one, and then yearly thereafter to ensure protection.”

“If your dog was vaccinated last year, you need to return to your vet foranother shot,” said Dr Griebsch.

What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a potentially fatal bacterial infection that can cause acutekidney failure and liver disease in dogs. Dogs become infected by contact withurine from rats or indirectly via contaminated water or soil. They can alsobecome infected by hunting and eating rats. Prevention of leptospirosis isachieved by limiting contact to sources of infection, and by vaccination.Until recently clinical leptospirosis has only rarely been reported in theSydney area. Therefore, historically, dogs have not been routinely vaccinatedagainst this disease. Clinical signs can initially be very vague such aslethargy, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease which means humans can become infected aswell, through contact with rat urine or urine of infected dogs, through skinwounds or through the mucus membranes (for example, in the mouth).

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