Leptospirosis Public service announcement
There have been recent reports of outbreaks of Leptospirosis in Sydney. All affected cases have been reported in the Inner West (Surry Hills, Glebe). Leptospirosis is caused by infection with filamentous, gram-negative motile bacterial spirochetes of the genus Leptospira. Favouring warm, moist environments, ponds and stagnant water and areas exposed to flooding may provide conditions suitable for the spirochetes to survive for months. Reservoir hosts allow continued contamination of the environment (most often rats).
Dogs, as incidental hosts, may become infected through contact with the spirochetes in food, water and bedding. Leptospira may penetrate mucous membranes and macerated or broken skin; the incubation period is around 7 days. Incidental hosts tend to develop more severe clinical signs and shed for longer periods. Leptospirosis can be suspected in any dog with:
• Nonspecific clinical signs like lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea
• +/- elevated liver enzymes
The University of Sydney is currently undertaking a study to determine which serovars are involved in this outbreak and if there is any specific source of infection which can be identified.