SINGAPORE - A day care centre for dogs has been issued an isolation order following a rise in the number of suspected leptospirosis cases in dogs.
In a joint press release, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA), the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) said there has been an increase in the number of suspected leptospirosis cases in dogs being reported by veterinarians since late last year.
AVA said this upward trend was observed after no animal cases were reported in 2014, followed by two notifications received by AVA between September and December 2015, and 18 notifications to date in 2016.
Between June 27 and July 14, AVA has received 12 notifications associated with Sunny Heights Day Care Centre which is located along Turf Club Road.
AVA has since issued an isolation order on the day care centre prohibiting any dog from entering or leaving the premises without AVA's authorisation.
In addition, the day care centre is required to conduct a thorough cleaning and disinfection of the premises.
NEA conducted an inspection on July 12 at Sunny Heights Dog Daycare Centre and its vicinity, including a licensed pet café, and did not detect any signs of rat activity.
In human cases, MOH received about 20 to 30 reports of leptospirosis each year between 2012 and 2015. This year, 14 cases have so far been reported to MOH as of July 13. This included one human case whose family dog had previously attended Sunny Heights Day Care Centre.
Investigations are currently on-going.
Protection against leptospirosis
To help protect against leptospirosis infection, AVA advises dog owners to keep their dogs up to date with their vaccinations. Although the vaccine does not provide 100% protection, it can reduce the chance of the dog being infected, and help prevent the shedding of bacteria in the dog’s urine. Dog owners are also advised to reduce their dogs’ exposure to water or soil that may be contaminated, such as areas that are home to small mammals such as bats, rats and other rodents, which are all potential carriers of Leptospira.
Owners with pets that have been diagnosed with leptospirosis should avoid handling or contact with urine, blood, or tissues. If necessary, protective coverings such as gloves should be worn. Owners should also wash their hands with soap after handling the pet or anything that might have the pet's excrement on it. Surfaces that may be contaminated or contain urine from an infected pet should be cleaned using antibacterial cleaning solutions or household bleach.
The public are advised to seek medical attention should they develop symptoms. They should also practice good personal hygiene at all times, especially after the handling of animals, or if they are in contact with soil or water that may be contaminated by animal urine.
What is leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can affect both animals and humans. It can be transmitted to humans and animals through cuts and abrasions of the skin, or through mucous membranes with water contaminated with the urine of infected animals. While many wild and domestic animals can be infected and act as a source of infection, rodents are considered the primary source of infection to human beings.
Clinical signs of leptospirosis in dogs include fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, jaundice and failure to produce urine. Infected dogs may be treated with antibiotics but may succumb to the infection due to acute renal failure. Dogs showing these clinical signs and are known to have been exposed to infected animals should seek veterinary treatment immediately.
Clinical signs of leptospirosis in humans include fever, headache, decreased appetite, chills, muscle aches, vomiting, jaundice, red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and rash. Without treatment, leptospirosis may be fatal.