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Leptospirosis Risk Increase in NSW

Pet Insurance Australia urges immediate action from pet owners in NSW to combat escalating leptospirosis risk amidst rainfall issues

As New South Wales battles with the latest rainfall issues, Pet Insurance Australia (PIA) issues a stark warning to pet owners about the rapidly increasing risk of Leptospirosis in dogs. With NSW experiencing some of the most severe downpours this winter, PIA stresses the urgent need for awareness and preventive measures to protect pets.

Nadia Crighton, spokesperson for Pet Insurance Australia, expresses concern over the possibility of the growing number of Leptospirosis cases in dogs. "This is very concerning for many pet owners, particularly in NSW, where we are witnessing some incredible weather events that could cause a surge in Leptospirosis cases."

Leptospirosis, a bacterial infection transmitted through rodents' urine, poses a significant threat to dogs, especially those drinking from contaminated ponds and puddles. With an extended rain forecast, the threat of dogs coming into contact with Leptospirosis in flooded dog-friendly areas and puddles is a cause for concern.

"It's about informing people so they understand the dangers of allowing their pets to frolic in puddles and waterways after a deluge of rain, particularly in areas where rats are present," Crighton says.

While a vaccine is available and commonly used in Queensland, PIA urges dog owners, especially in high-risk areas, to seek vaccination from their local veterinarian.

"Pet owners need to be vigilant in keeping their pets safe," advises Crighton. "With extra rainfall comes more risk of this condition appearing in our beloved dog population."

To reduce the risk of Leptospirosis, PIA recommends the following tips for pet owners:

✔️ Keep dogs on a lead to prevent them from roaming freely.
✔️ Avoid allowing dogs to play in ponds or puddles where contamination may occur.
✔️ Ensure pets' living areas are free from rodents and food scraps.
✔️ Stay away from flooded parks and muddy areas where rats may be prevalent.

"If you suspect a rodent problem at home, contact a pest control company promptly," Crighton advises. "And if your local off-leash area is flooded, consider on-lead walking and discourage pets from drinking from puddles."

Early vaccination is crucial in preventing Leptospirosis. The vaccine, proven safe and effective, is administered in two doses, with a booster shot required annually. Pet owners are urged to consult their local veterinarian about vaccinating their beloved companions, especially in high-risk areas.

"Leptospirosis can be effectively prevented," reassures Crighton. 

"Seek vaccination to provide a strong shield of protection for your dog, especially if you live in a high-construction area where rats could be prevalent. Vaccination is a proven and reliable preventive measure."

Symptoms of Leptospirosis in dogs may include:

✔️ Fever
✔️ Muscle stiffness
✔️ Shivering
✔️ Lack of appetite
✔️ Increased thirst and urination
✔️ Vomiting
✔️ Diarrhoea
✔️ Dark red gums
✔️ Change in breathing
✔️ Nasal discharge.

If any of these symptoms occur, seek veterinary treatment immediately. Dog owners must also understand that the risk and infection rate of Leptospirosis could be widely under-reported.

"When a dog presents at the vet with the typical symptoms of lethargy and the above symptoms, blood would be typically taken," Crighton says. "However, the vet would need to specifically request the test checks for Leptospirosis, meaning the issue could be much higher in certain areas that dog owners are unaware of."

"Prevention and education are key to keeping our canines safe," concludes Crighton. "Exercise caution in known rat-populated areas, especially during this rainy season."

MEDIA RELEASE,  5th June 2024


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