–by Deborah Lambert, Sooke Vet
A dog known to only frequent Sooke has become ill with Leptospirosis as of November 4th, 2018. It was confirmed via PCR test November 7th, 2018. This marks the first known, confirmed Leptospirosis case to originate in Sooke to our knowledge.
Leptospirosis is caused by a bacteria that has been slowly spreading down through the Greater Victoria region. It largely survives in stagnant water which has been contaminated with an infected animal’s urine. Once exposed, an animal (often dogs) become ill, although the disease itself can manifest in many ways. Sometimes acute death occurs. In other cases, symptoms include vomiting, dehydration, fever, bleeding disorders, a lack of appetite, or diarrhea. More subtle signs can include inflammation almost anywhere in the body (nose, eye, lungs) and liver damage.
Blood work and urine samples can detect the dangerous renal (kidney) or hepatic (liver) failure that may occur, but specialized testing is required to identify Leptospirosis as the cause. While early in-house tests can show exposure, a laboratory test is required to confirm it. Caught early, the bacteria is killed easily. The damage done, however, can cause permanent injury to organs or even be fatal.
This disease is transmissible to people through urine of infected animals, although human cases are very rare in Canada.
Vaccination is available for dogs to protect against four types of this bacteria, the ones most likely to cause disease. This requires a vaccination, followed by a booster at 3-4 weeks, then annual boosters. It is one of the more irritating vaccines, sometimes causing transient pain, swelling or other reactions, but only in 1.5% of cases. We are recommending dog owners discuss vaccination with their veterinarians, and keep Leptospirosis in mind when having their dogs out.