With a sudden spike in Leptospirosis cases being diagnosed in Nova Scotia pets, health officials are now worried that humans may also be at risk.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that effects the kidneys and liver, and is zoonotic, which means it can be transferred from animals to humans.
The disease can be fatal if left untreated, and as a protective measure the Nova Scotia Department of Health has sent letters to veterinarians and doctors outlining signs and symptoms of the disease and to warn them to be on the lookout.
“It’s a bacteria that can cause some really severe illness in dogs,” said Tara Riddell, a veterinarian with the Metro Animal Emergency Clinic.
“And we’re seeing a lot more of it this year than we have in previous years.”
There is a vaccine to protect animals from leptospirosis, but because we do not live in a tropical climate, it is not often given.
Dogs can contract the disease by drinking contaminated drinking water, or from scratches on their skin coming into contact with contaminated soil or other substances.
Symptoms of infection include: diarrhea, increased drinking, jaundice and vomiting.
“Basic common sense personal hygiene measures will significantly reduce even the low-level risk that might be in place right now,” Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, told CTV Atlantic.
Luckily, with colder weather on the horizon, cases of leptospirosis will decrease as the disease is much more prevalent in tropical climates.
To reduce your pet’s risk of contracting the disease, Riddell recommends that people consult with their own vets to determine if their dogs should be given the vaccine or not.
The vaccine protects against four of the main types of leptospirosis but not all of them so even vaccinated dogs can contract the disease.