Dog owners in Greater Victoria are being warned of an outbreak of leptospirosis.
Sooke Veterinary Hospital sent out an email Thursday alerting pet owners to the first confirmed case in Sooke. Several dogs throughout Greater Victoria have contracted the disease in recent months.
“There have been a number of cases popping up in Victoria and Langford and one case in Sidney, but this is the first one in Sooke. But it’s been spreading for about the last 12 months and something that dog owners should talk to their vet about,” said Dr. Deborah Lambert.
Leptospirosis is a bacteria that can be life-threatening. It spreads through the urine of infected animals and can be transmitted to humans, putting people at risk for kidney damage and liver failure. The bacteria largely survives in stagnant water which has been contaminated with an infected animal’s urine.
Once exposed, an animal (often dogs) becomes ill with symptoms that include vomiting, dehydration, fever, bleeding disorders, a lack of appetite, or diarrhea.
In other cases, more subtle signs can include inflammation almost anywhere in the body (nose, eye, lungs) and liver damage.
In some cases, the dog may die.
“The dog in Sooke is currently fighting for her life,” Lambert said.
“I just think that dog owners should be aware that the disease is out there now, and that there is a vaccine that can protect your pet from contracting what is a very serious illness.”
A vaccination is available for dogs to protect against four types of the bacteria, the ones most likely to cause disease, and is administered by an initial shot followed by a booster at four weeks, then annual boosters.