2019/09/20 - SCMP

Hong Kong dog owners warned to be vigilant around water after new disease strain discovered

Vets are warning dog owners in Hong Kong to be extra vigilant following an outbreak of leptospirosis, a potentially lethal bacterial disease that can spread to humans. According to the CityU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) at the City University of Hong Kong, there have been 26 cases from 11 clinics so far this year compared with just 10 cases last year. Another lab facility, Pathlab, reported five cases over the summer compared to none in the same period last year. The warnings come after a specific strain, leptospira hebdomadis, was detected in Hong Kong for the first time. Commonly used leptospiral vaccines available in the city do not protect against it. Usually spread by rat urine, leptospirosis can lead to liver and kidney failure. It is common for dogs to contract it in Hong Kong during the summer rainy season when splashing through tainted rivers, streams and puddles, or worse, drinking from them. Infected dogs can also spread the disease through their urine.