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Leptospirosis Outbreak: What you need to know

8 February 2021  

What is leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a highly contagious bacterial infection that affects most species of mammals, including dogs and humans. Leptospirosis is zoonotic (which means it can be passed on to us from our furry family members), so protecting your dog helps to protect you too. Human symptoms range from flu-like symptoms to kidney failure and even death.


How is it spread?

Leptospirosis bacteria is spread through infected animals (usually rodents) urine and blood. It can enter a dog’s body through ingestion of the rat or through contaminated food or water sources and can survive in soil or water for weeks or months. Dogs can come into contact with the bacteria by walking through, drinking, or even spending time near contaminated water like puddles, mud, standing water, and lakes. 

There have been four recent cases identified – one in Waterloo, one in Figtree near Wollongong, one in Horsley Park and most recently in the Northern Beaches. All four cases were fatal.


How can I protect my pet? 

Luckily, Leptospirosis is a disease we can vaccinate against. At this stage there is only a vaccination available to dogs. The vaccination regime requires two doses of the vaccine to be given 2-4 weeks apart initially then once yearly after that. The Leptospirosis vaccine can be added on to your yearly C5 vaccine which is what we are now recommending to all of our patients. For more information and pricing call the clinic on 9631 9322 or book a consultation with one of our vets. 


What are the symptoms?

It’s important to note that dogs can be infected and not even show signs of having leptospirosis.

Symptoms of leptospirosis include:

  • Fever
  • Shivering
  • Muscle tenderness
  • Increased thirst
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the “whites” of their eyes or the inside of their ears, gums, or belly skin)


If your dog is displaying any signs of leptospirosis, call the clinic on 9631 9322 and book an appointment with one of our veterinarians. Delaying treatment can result in severe kidney or liver damage, and even death.