Leptospirosis outbreak in Halifax worries local dog owners

women caresses her dog Photo by FCSCAFEINE/Shutterstock

Local dog owners in Halifax are being advised to take precautions due to a spike in cases of leptospirosis.

Leptospirosis is an infectious disease that is transferable to humans.

“It’s a bacteria that can cause some really severe illness in dogs,” said Tara Riddell, a local veterinarian with the Metro Animal Emergency Clinic.

“We’re seeing a lot more of it this year than we have in previous years.”

The clinic has seen roughly 20 to 30 cases of confirmed or suspected leptospirosis these past months—normally, only a handful of cases are encountered over the year.

One of the steps owners can take to minimize the risk of infection is speaking with their vet about whether or not vaccination is something they should consider for their furry friend.

The vaccine that is currently available protects against four types of leptospirosis but because there are more varieties of the bacteria is difficult to keep even vaccinated dogs safe.

If you notice a change in your dog’s behaviour—loss of appetite, drinking too much, changes in bowel movement or vomiting— visiting a vet is highly recommended

Though the disease is typically found in tropical temperatures and climates, there have been reports of outbreaks among humans in colder areas as well.

Symptoms to look out for in an infectious humans include fever, diarrhea, chills, vomiting, skin rashes and muscle pain. The symptoms appear two or three days after coming in contact with the bacteria but can be treated with antibiotics.