Leptospirosis Warning for Dogs in Bath
There has been a lot of news recently about Leptospirosis in Dogs and we have been in touch with Veterinary Specialists ( Immunologists and Vaccine Companies) to get the correct advice to keep your dog as safe as possible. The important details you need to know are set out below:
Leptospirosis is a potentially serious bacterial disease in dogs and humans. It has been on the increase in the Bath/Bristol area in the past few years with a cluster of recent cases diagnosed over the last 2-3 months. Some of these cases contain a newly detected strain of Leptospirosis which has not been very common up until now.
The bacteria tend to originate from rats and therefore can be caught by dogs ( and Humans) in areas where rats tend to inhabit such as rivers, lakes and stagnant water.
Dogs can be vaccinated for Leptospirosis but as it is a bacteria (not a virus) the vaccine is not as effective as the viral vaccines which we use for other diseases ( like Parvovirus) but vaccination is still recommended to reduce the risk of infection.
There is a new vaccination which has just been released which covers for the newer strains of Leptospirosis ( as well as the old ones ) .
Ashman Jones is recommending that the following dogs come in as soon as possible for the new vaccination
We need to see your dog if :
1. Your dog has not had a routine vaccination within the last 9 months
2. Your dog regularly swims in rivers/lakes or plays in dirty water/puddles where rats may have been.
We recommend that you make an appointment and get the vaccination done if there is any uncertainty whether your dogs fits into either category listed above.
The vaccination is a course of two injections which are given 4 weeks apart. Each injection costs £45 but the first one is free to anyone joining our Best Friends Club.
Finally , it is very unlikely that Humans will catch Leptospirosis from dogs but Humans are at risk if they too swim in rivers/lakes where rats have been- Consult your doctor for more advice. It is also unlikely for Dogs to pass the disease onto other dogs.
More information about Leptospirosis in Dogs
What is Leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis (often shortened to Lepto) is caused by a group of bacteria called Leptospira. Lepto is rare in cats, while dogs can become infected by the bacteria entering skin wounds. The bacteria can be found in stagnant water such as ponds and lakes. Humans can also be infected most commonly by contact with wild rats or wild rat urine causing 'Weil's disease'.
What are the symptoms in dogs?
Lepto can cause a range of clinical signs from mild lethargy to liver disease and kidney disease in dogs. They can be very sick with fever, vomiting and diarrhoea along with signs of liver and kidney failure. We diagnose the disease based on clinical signs and blood tests for the bacteria. The clinical signs are often severe and treatment is difficult.
Is Lepto a problem in Bath?
Lepto is uncommon in the UK however some clinical cases of Leptospirosis and of suspected Lepto have been seen within the last year in the Bath and North Somerset area. Ashman Jones has had 3 very serious cases diagnosed in the last 3 months.
What can we do to prevent it?
Vaccination can help to protect your dog from severe infection. Like any vaccine, infection is still possible but the symptoms and consequences are much milder if your dog has been vaccinated. The vaccine also helps to stop shedding of the bacteria in dog's urine which reduces the risk of spreading the disease. We recommend yearly boosters for Lepto as bacterial vaccines do not last for as long as viral vaccines.
What vaccines are available?
There are many different strains of Leptospirosis, L.icterohaemorrhagiae and L.canicola are the most common causing disease. There is an L2 vaccine that covers these two strains and a newer L4 vaccine that covers four different Lepto groups L. canicola, L. icterohaemorrhagiae, L.Interrogans ( Bratislava) and L. grippotyphosa. L.grippotyphosa has not caused many cases of Lepto in dogs in the UK.
What vaccine should we give your dog?
Up until recently we have been using the L2 vaccine containing L.icterohaemorrhagiae and L.canicola. These are the two most common strains of bacteria. We promote preventative medicine particularly the core vaccinations including Parvovirus which can cause severe disease in unvaccinated dogs, however we do not like to over vaccinate unnecessarily. Most cases of Lepto are in unvaccinated dogs or those who have not stayed up to date with their yearly Lepto booster. Recently there have been diagnoses of one of the L.Interrogans ( Bratislava) in the Bath area so we have decided to notify all at-risk dogs to make an appointment for the newer L4 vaccine which we now have in stock. The new vaccination requires 2 injections 4 weeks apart and is then given yearly in combination with the other routine vaccinations your dog is due.
Can the Lepto vaccine cause vaccine reactions?
It is normal for dogs to be a little bit quieter than normal in the 24 hours after any vaccine while their immune system develops a response to the inactivated virus or bacteria or proteins from the virus or bacteria. Sometimes a lump may be felt at the vaccine site where the immune system has mounted a response, but this should disappear within a few weeks.
Serious vaccine reactions, despite what some websites will tell you, are rare and usually occur very rapidly after the vaccine is given. In these instances we will recommend changes to your vaccination protocol based on blood results.
The advantages of vaccination in protecting against serious, fatal disease mean that we recommend the core vaccines at Ashman Jones.