On June 3, the Hamilton Spectator published a story that filled dog owners across the city with dread. A woman reported that her beloved Scottish deerhound had suffered permanent liver damage after contracting a rare bacterial disease.
The apparent cause was something that dogs do every day: eat grass. Only this grass had been contaminated by bacteria from the urine of an infected animal. The dog developed leptospirosis, an infectious disease that can be spread to humans and result in dangerous medical conditions like:
- Respiratory problems
- Kidney damage
- Liver failure
An early diagnosis and medical intervention can slow and mitigate the disease which, left untreated, could cause death. Given the fact that leptospirosis can be passed from animals to humans, there is definite cause for concern in Hamilton.
In this blog, we’ll explain what leptospirosis is, how it is spread, and how an experienced pest and disease control company can help you protect your family and companion animals.
What is leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is an infectious illness found in soil and water. Wild animals are frequent carriers. Once in place, the bacteria can survive for weeks and pose a risk to dogs in particular (leptospirosis does not appear to be as common or severe in cats).
If your dog’s mucous membranes come into contact with urine-contaminated surfaces (e.g. by licking or eating grass), they can become seriously ill. So can you if the bacteria enters through your nose, mouth, eyes, or cuts and scratches on your skin.
Rats and mice are common carriers of leptospirosis, increasing the risk of infection in large urban areas like Hamilton where rodents are a longstanding problem. They could transmit the disease by drinking in a puddle or leaving droppings in areas where dogs and other animals might come across them.
Raccoons are another known agent. If they come around homes and buildings in search of food, urinate in various places, and then leave, that urine can potentially threaten the lives of other animals and even humans for a long time.
How can you prevent it?
In the Spectator article, the supervisor of Hamilton’s health hazards and vector-borne diseases program pointed out that the risk of leptospirosis lingering on grass is not high at the moment, given the long days of hot sun, but a veterinarian at the Clappison Animal Hospital warned that the disease can still be found in places you’d least expect.
What can you do? Getting your pet vaccinated against leptospirosis can help, but this does not provide total protection because there are multiple strains of the bacteria that causes the illness. The best way to prevent infection is to take pest and disease control measures like those below:
- Cleaning the area around your home. Remove anything that could shelter and attract pests. Get rid of any junk, discarded drink cups and take-out containers, and anything that could collect water. All trash should be kept in a sealed container.
- Blocking entry points: Rodents usually enter buildings through open doors and windows, so keep them closed when not in use and protect any gaps with window caulking or door sweeps.
- Laying poison or traps: If you use commercially-available rodent poisons and traps, be especially diligent if you have pets.
- Scaring them away: If you’ve got a racoon problem, setting up motion-detecting sprinklers during the warm weather season can frighten them off. Noise-making devices like radios can also be a deterrent.
These measures can help you control a comparatively minor pest problem, but if it grows or becomes recurring, contact a reputable pest and disease control company that will visit your home, evaluate the extent of the problem, and take prevention and protection measures that can keep you and your loved ones safer.
How Action Pest can help
If you are having issues with animals known to carry the leptospirosis bacteria, our experienced pest and disease control technicians will help you get rid of them by finding and sealing possible entrances, cleaning out any nests found on your property, and laying traps or poison in place where they pose no risk to domestic animals.
Although leptospirosis is fairly rare, no one should be expected to take a chance with the lives of their loved ones. The professional pest control services at Action Pest can prevent this dangerous illness from spreading and advise you how to prevent further infestation. To learn more about our services or to schedule a home visit, contact us today.