Surge in Leptospirosis Cases Prompts Warning to Dog Owners Near London

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Home Breaking Surge in Leptospirosis Cases Prompts Warning to Dog Owners Near London

Surge in Leptospirosis Cases Prompts Warning to Dog Owners Near London

Dog owners are being urged to protect their pets from a rare, but potentially fatal disease after a rise in cases was reported by an animal hospital near a town just north of London.

Leptospirosis, also known as Weil’s disease, is an illness caused by bacteria that damages vital organs such as the liver and kidneys. It can affect both humans and pets and is most commonly transferred by urine from infected animals, including rats, mice, cows, pigs, and dogs.

Increased Cases Reported

Davies Veterinary Specialists, located in Hitchin, has seen a significant increase in the number of leptospirosis cases since the pandemic. Speaking to The Comet, the team at Davies revealed that prior to the pandemic, they would manage two or three cases a year. Now, they are seeing nearly one case every month.

How Dogs Catch Weil’s Disease

According to the PDSA, dogs can catch leptospirosis through:

  • Contact with other infected dogs
  • Sniffing or licking the ground where an infected dog has urinated
  • Urine from infected cows, pigs, or rodents
  • Infected wet ground or fresh water, where the disease can survive for several months

Vaccinations are available in the UK to help protect against leptospirosis. Dog owners are encouraged to contact their local vet for more information.

Weil’s Disease in Humans

Leptospirosis is spread through the urine of infected animals and can be contracted by humans if:

  • Infected soil or freshwater gets into the mouth, eyes, or a cut
  • An individual touches an infected animal’s blood or flesh

The NHS notes that it is very rare to contract leptospirosis from pets, other people, or bites.

Symptoms and Treatment

Symptoms of Weil’s disease in humans can include:

  • High temperature
  • Headache
  • Body aches and pain
  • Tummy ache
  • Feeling sick or being sick
  • Diarrhoea
  • Redness in the white part of the eyes
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)

Most people who contract leptospirosis experience no symptoms or mild flu-like symptoms. However, severe cases can lead to serious illness and require hospital treatment. Typically, antibiotic tablets are prescribed to treat the infection, and it’s important to complete the course even if symptoms improve. Pain relief can also be managed with paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Preventive Measures

Although Weil’s disease is rare in the UK, there are several measures to reduce the risk of infection:

  • Wash hands with soap and water after handling animals or animal products
  • Clean any wounds as soon as possible
  • Cover cuts and grazes with waterproof plasters
  • Wear protective clothing if at risk through your job
  • Shower as soon as possible after being in potentially infected water
  • Ensure your dog is vaccinated against leptospirosis (there is no vaccine for humans)

For More Information

For more details on Weil’s disease (leptospirosis), visit the NHS or PDSA website. If you are concerned that you or your dog may have contracted the disease, contact your local GP and/or vet.

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