Well, it’s official, Lepto season is here. PetDiseaseReport.com has identified the first 2014 case of leptospirosis in Canada. Leptospirosis, or Lepto for short, is a deadly bacterial disease affecting dogs, wildlife and humans. It is contagious to both pets and humans, and isprimarily found in wet areas or seasons. Since the disease is transmitted by contact with an infected animal’s urine, wet areas or wet weather allow easier contact and keeps the bacteria alive longer.
When I was a vet student I thought of this disease as primarily affecting water-loving large breed dogs in the country. Since then, veterinarians have recognized that the infection rate is increasing in cities and suburbs as populations of raccoons, skunks, and rodents carrying the disease increase in urban areas. In recent years we have seen outbreaks in Mississauga and Kitchener. The first case I saw in practice was a chihuahua in Kitchener who was likely infected, along with many of her friends, by drinking from a pond in a local park. The little chihuahua was successfully treated for the Lepto but did suffer irreversible kidney damage from the disease. Leptospirosis can infect humans in contact with the sick animal’s urine, but fortunately our chihuahua’s elderly owner did not become infected.
Our Animal Care Team at Carriage Crossing Animal Hospital will see many more cases as the wet spring weather continues, then there is often another cluster of cases with the wet weather in the fall. Contact us at our Waterloo Animal Hospital for more information on vaccinating your pet to prevent leptospirosis infection, signs of the disease and tips on avoiding infection now that Lepto season is here. Visit PetDiseaseReport.com often to track diseases affecting dogs here in Ontario.