Following devastating outbreaks of leptospirosis in Australian suburbs this year, dog owners across the nation are being urged to speak with their local vet about the fatal disease.
Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health is behind the mission to better educate dog owners and encourage them to speak to their veterinarian about the risks of leptospirosis—highlighting vaccination as an important strategy for protection.
The bacteria responsible for leptospirosis in dogs are carried primarily by rats. There are more than 300 different serovars (types), however research has shown that serovar Copenhageni is the most common in southern and eastern Australia while serovar Australis is most common in North Queensland.
With rats found throughout our cities and suburbs, leptospirosis may occur anywhere. The bacteria are shed in the urine of rats, and can be transmitted via contaminated water, food, soil or bedding, or from direct contact with infected rats.
Initially, leptospirosis causes non-specific signs such as lethargy, fever, vomiting, and diarrhoea, but infected dogs may develop severe hepatic and renal disease, and bleeding disorders.
“Educating dog owners about the dangers of leptospirosis and how they can protect against it is key,” Bondi Vet Hospital owner Dr Kate Adams said.
“As well as causing serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs, leptospirosis is also a zoonotic disease, being able to be transmitted from rats, or dogs to humans. It is therefore important that all clinical staff keep leptospirosis on their list of differential diagnoses for dogs presenting with non-specific illness or signs of haemorrhagic, renal or hepatic disease.
“Even with treatment, we know that leptospirosis can be fatal in dogs. That is why education and prevention through avoiding exposure to rats and vaccination are so important,” Dr Adams added.
Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health manufactures Protech® C2i, a vaccine containing bacterins of Leptospira interrogans serovar Copenhageni and is registered to protect against disease caused by this serovar. The vaccine also contains inactivated canine enteric coronavirus, and aids in the protection against this disease. The vaccine can be administered to healthy dogs, six weeks of age or older to protect against disease caused by Leptospira interrogans serovar Copenhageni.
Previously unvaccinated dogs require two doses of Protech® C2i, two to four weeks apart, then annual revaccination thereafter.