Sunny Heights Dog Day Care centre issued with isolation order after a rise in leptospirosis cases

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In a joint press release issued by Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), Ministry of Health (MOH) and National Environment Agency (NEA), Sunny Heights Day Care Centre has been issued with an isolation order due to the rising of numbers of suspecting dogs suffering from bacterial disease called leptospirosis on July 20.

Dogs are prohibited to enter or leave the centre without AVA’s authorization and environmental sample for leptospirosis testing have been taken.

The centre is  obliged to conduct a thorough cleaning and disinfection of the premises. NEA inspected the centre and the neighboring area last Tuesday, including the pet cafe, and found no sign of rat activity.

AVA reported that it received zero reports of animal cases from veterinarians in 2014. Two notifications were received between September to December in 2015. While 18 notifications have been received from early this year, 12 of the reports were associated with Sunny Heights Day Care Centre, which is located along Turf Club Road, Bukit Timah and were dated between June 27 and July 14.

Sunny Heights posted words of gratitude towards its patrons’ patience on its Facebook account on Sunday and told them that they have managed to get over the crisis and once the crisis is over they are inviting all the owners to take their pets to have a complimentary swim.

MOH reported that each year from 2012 to 2015, about 20 to 30 human cases of leptospirosis were received,  while 14 cases have been reported from early this year, one of which was from a man whose dog had previously attended the centre.

The symptoms in animals include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice and failure to produce urine. Infected dogs may be given antibiotics to kill the bacteria but they may still succumb to the infection due to acute renal failure.

While the symptoms in humans include  fever, headache, decreased appetite, chills, muscle aches, vomiting, jaundice, red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rash.

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. Leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death if it is not being well treated.

AVA reminds pet owners to keep their dogs’ vaccines up-to-date, although it may not 100 per cent protect the animal, but at least it can reduce the chance of being infected and it can help to prevent the shedding in the dogs’ urine. Dogs’ owner are also advised to reduce their dogs’ exposure to contaminated areas, such as homes to small mammals which are potential carriers of the bacteria.

Owners of infected dogs should avoid handling or contact with urine, blood or tissue. Protective coverings should be worn if necessary. They should also wash their hands with soap after handling the animal. Surfaces that may be contaminated should be cleaned using antibacterial cleaning solution or household bleach.

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