5 dogs dead: Sydney dog owners encouraged to get pets vaccinated

Posted: 16 July 2019 4:49 pm

man playing with dog in park

Dogs visiting Sydney parks are susceptible to a deadly, highly contagious, bacterial disease.

Five dogs have died and more have become ill in Sydney from leptospirosis, a deadly disease transmitted by rat urine that can kill pets in less than 48 hours. It’s the first time the highly infectious disease has struck Sydney’s inner-city suburbs and it’s currently being treated by health professionals as an outbreak.

Before this year, NSW has never had a reported dog death caused by this disease. However, in the past three months, there have been at least five. It is unclear why the disease emerged in Sydney’s inner city but it’s likely due to migrating rat populations brought about by unprecedented levels of construction going on in the city.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection associated with rat urine and is common in muddy areas and stagnant water often found in parks. Symptoms often appear as a general sickness, including a lack of appetite and movement, fever and chills. This is usually accompanied by haemorrhages, organ failure and swelling of the brain.

The disease is zoonotic, which means it can be passed from pets to people. According to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System, over 50 people have been infected with leptospirosis in the last three months.

Two dogs who frequently visited Ward Park on Devonshire Street, Surry Hills are among those who sadly caught the disease and passed away. Cases have also occurred in dogs that have visited Sydney Park in Alexandria and there have most recently been reports of a case as far west as Blacktown, according to a spokesperson from Sydney Animal Hospitals.

What should Sydney dog owners do?

Luckily, leptospirosis can be prevented with a vaccine. If you have comprehensive pet insurance, you may be covered for vaccinations under routine care. If you don’t have pet insurance, now is a good time to think about getting cover to protect your pet.

Before you get the necessary vaccinations for your dog, keep your pets away from puddles, ponds and stagnant water. It’s generally a good idea to stay away from parks and areas that have a high rat population. You should also wash your hands when feeding your dog and remove any food scraps that could attract rodents.

If you’re worried about the disease, contact your local vet hospital for details on getting your dog vaccinated.

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