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Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) said it was notified of four confirmed cases of leptospirosis in pet dogs in the past two weeks from the Upper Thomson and Shunfu area (as reported in The Straits Times on 28 Jan 2024).


This marked increase in the number of cases is likely due to the rainy season.

AVS has sent out a circular to all veterinary clinics in Singapore regarding this notifiable zoonotic disease.

Leptospirosis is a zoonosis that occurs worldwide and is endemic in Singapore.


The pathogenic spirochaetes of the genus Leptospira is the perpetrator.


Pathogenic leptospires live in the kidneys of a large variety of mammalian species, including rats, and are excreted into the environment in the urine.

Leptospirosis is spread through the urine of these infected animals, which can get into water or soil and can survive there for weeks to months.


Pathogenic leptospires survive longer in warmer and humid soil and stagnant water in the environments.


Therefore, the disease is particularly prevalent in wet tropical and subtropical regions, like Singapore. 


The bacterium can be destroyed in dry conditions, extreme temperature changes, and detergents.

More than 10 different serovars have been associated with disease in dogs worldwide, although the exact serovars responsible in specific geographic locations remain poorly understood due to the difficulties associated with the culture of leptospires.

Image by Joshua J. Cotten

A study funded by the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (Singapore), and the Future Systems and Technology Directorate, Ministry of Defence was conducted over a period of 2 years 2 months (published in Feb 2022), on 1143 live rodents obtained via opportunistic sampling conducted by pest control professionals registered with the Singapore Pest Management Association and from the trapping done by this particular research team throughout Singapore showed 42.4%  of these rats were positive of Leptospira spp.

Humans and animals can become infected through contact with contaminated urine or other body fluids, (except saliva) of infected animals, water, or soil contaminated the bodily fluid.


The bacteria then enter the body through skin or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth), especially if the skin is broken from a cut or scratch.


Drinking contaminated water can also cause infection. 

Your pets have a higher risk of becoming infected if they are allowed to explore potentially contaminated areas, stagnant water, and soil.


Infected pets can pass the disease to each other and to their human owners when infected.

The time between exposure to the bacteria and the development of symptoms is usually 5 to 14 days but can be as short as a few days or as long as 30 days or more.

Updated 01 FEB 2024



Leptospira attaches to cells that line blood vessels and make it harder for blood to clot normally - resulting in spontaneous bleeding under the skin (petechiae and/or ecchymosis).


The bacteria can spread throughout the body and affect organs, often causing liver, kidneys, lungs, genital tract, and central nervous system issues.


Common signs seen:

  • Fever

  • Decreased appetite

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Increased thirst and urination

  • Lethargy or weakness

  • Stiffness and soreness

  • Dehydration

  • Jaundice

  • Breathing issues

  • Redness in the eyes

  • Death

Your veterinarian will recommend blood tests, such as baseline haematology and biochemistry, a PCR test to look for DNA of the Leptospira organism, testing for antibodies, and urine tests.




Stay away from rodent-infested (rats, mice, or other animal pests) areas, e.g. rubbish chute areas, and areas behind food establishments.

Keep your environment clean and dispose of your garbage responsibly so there is no rodent infestation in your area.


Avoid contact with wildlife.


Vaccinate your dogs annually with the leptospirosis vaccine(s).


The vaccine does not provide 100% protection because there are many strains (types) of leptospires and the vaccine does not provide immunity against all strains.


It is important to get your pet vaccinated again even if it has had leptospirosis because it can still get infected with a different strain of leptospires.

If this is the first vaccine, your dog will need a booster after  3-4 weeks.


Your dog should then receive a booster once a year.


Avoid access to standing / stagnant puddles of water.


Wash your pets after outings.

Wash your hands diligently.

Lifestyle changes to prevent a potentially deadly disease are much simpler than wrestling with high medical fees and the risk of death. 



Griffiths, J., Yeo, H.L., Yap, G. et al. Survey of rodent-borne pathogens in Singapore reveals the circulation of Leptospira spp., Seoul hantavirus, and Rickettsia typhi. Sci Rep 12, 2692 (2022).

Sykes, Jane E. Vaccination Overview: Leptospirosis, TVP, Vol 11 Number 4, Jul/Aug 2021.

Cohen, Aly.  Canine Leptospirosis.,avoiding%20common%20sources%20of%20contamination.


Almost every mammalian species can become a carrier for Leptospira after exposure, yet in the past, experts believed that cats were not susceptible to infection.

Although the literature on the clinical presentation of leptospirosis in cats is scarce, it has been demonstrated that cats are susceptible to infection and that Leptospira might play a role in the development of long-term kidney diseases in cats.

Healthy-looking cats, with leptospirosis, are likely underestimated owing to the lack of overt clinical signs commonly associated with this disease.


Studies showed the prevalence of anti-leptospiral antibodies in cats varies from 4% to 33.3% depending on the geographical location.


Urinary shedding of leptospires in naturally infected cats has also been reported, with a prevalence of up to 68%.

A study conducted in Malaysia (Johor and Selangor) to determine the presence of anti-Leptospira antibodies in healthy, adult cats from 4 different shelters between June 2017 and February 2018 showed that 20 of the 110 sheltered cats sampled were positive for Leptospira (various serovars).


Another similar study done in Thailand in 2019 detected anti-Leptospira antibodies in 14 of the 260 cats tested.

Although there are no studies available on the prevalence of leptospira infection in cats in Singapore, we have to assume that a higher risk exists within our community cats and roaming cats due to the association with the exposure/ hunting and/ or consumption of infected prey, especially rodents.


There is no commercial leptospirosis vaccine available for cats.


Preventing exposure/ avoidance of contact with stagnant water, contaminated areas/ soil, and urine from infected animals is the best policy.


Keep your environment clean and dispose of your garbage responsibly so there is no rodent infestation in your area.


If you are a cat feeder, personal protective equipment (e.g. gloves) should be used when handling or associating with potentially infected community cats to prevent zoonosis.


Image by Ashley Anthony




Alashraf AR, Lau SF, Khairani-Bejo S, et al. First report of pathogenic Leptospira spp. isolated from urine and kidneys of naturally infected cats. PLoS One. 2020;15(3):e0230048. Published 2020 Mar 10. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0230048

Sprißler F, Jongwattanapisan P, Luengyosluechakul S, Pusoonthornthum R, Prapasarakul N, Kurilung A, Goris M, Ahmed A, Reese S, Bergmann M, Dorsch R, Klaasen HLBM, Hartmann K. Leptospira infection and shedding in cats in Thailand. Transbound Emerg Dis. 2019 Mar;66(2):948-956. doi: 10.1111/tbed.13110. Epub 2019 Jan 7. PMID: 30580489.

Abdul Rahman Alashraf, Seng Fong Lau, Kuan Hua Khor, Siti Khairani-Bejo, Abdul Rani Bahaman, Mohd Azri Roslan, Mohd Sabri Abdul Rahman, Soon Heng Goh, Rozanaliza Radzi, Serological Detection of Anti-Leptospira Antibodies in Shelter Cats in Malaysia, Topics in Companion Animal Medicine, Volume 34, 2019, Pages 10-13, ISSN 1938-9736,


Murillo A, Goris M, Ahmed A, Cuenca R, Pastor J. Leptospirosis in cats: Current literature review to guide diagnosis and management. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. 2020;22(3):216-228. doi:10.1177/1098612X20903601

Image by Anton



There will be a suspension of raw poultry (chicken, duck, turkey, goose, and quail) products imported from the following areas, into Singapore during this festive season, due to the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 outbreak:


  • Japanese prefectures - Saga, Ibaraki, Saitama and Kagoshima 

  • United States,

  • Canada,

  • France,

  • Belgium

  • Germany


Processed (heat treated) poultry product can still be imported.


Singapore Food Agency (SFA), in collaboration with NParks (AVS), are authorised and states that they inspect local poultry farms, slaughterhouses, and test all (imported and locally reared) live poultry for diseases, including avian influenza.


SFA advise people to cook meat and eggs thoroughly, wash their hands with soap after handling raw poultry products in the market, supermarket and at home, to further minimise the risk of contracting bird flu from any poultry sources.


As a general precaution, people should always avoid contact with sick wild birds or dead wild birds’ carcasses, unless fully trained and equipped.

Singapore is free from H5N1, although it is endemic in our region.

Updated 11 DEC 2023

In Feb 2022 the highly pathogenic avian influenza ripped through poultry farms across the United States. By the end of that year, about 60 million birds had been killed because of the virus. 


Today in 2023, the total culling tally is up to about 68 million poultry, a sign that the disease has slowed down, but is still around.  

Bird flu viruses also have been known to sometimes infect mammals that eat the infected birds or poultry, including but not limited to wild animals, such as seals, bears, foxes, and skunks; farmed mink; but also stray or domestic animals, such as cats and dogs; and zoo animals, such as tigers and leopards.


“H5N1 bird flu viruses have been detected sporadically in some domestic animals, including cats during outbreaks in Thailand in 2004 and Northern Germany in 2006, and more recently in cats and dogs in North America,” as stated by the CDC.


Due to this current 2023-2024 chapter of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1outbreak, researchers have recorded a mass number of deaths in elephant seals in the Antarctic, as well as fur seals, kelp gulls, and brown skua at several other nearby sites.


There are concerns that the virus may devastate the remote penguin colonies in Antarctic and sub-Antarctic regions as the penguins gather in large numbers for the breeding season.


To date, over 500,000 seabirds and over 20,000 sea lions have died due to highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 in Peru and Chile alone.


Although humans are at a lower risk of getting an infection through contact with an infected wild, stray, feral, or domestic mammal, it is still possible - as we have learned from the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic.


If your domestic pet dog or cat goes outdoors and could potentially eat or be exposed to infected sick or dead birds, or be in an environment contaminated with highly pathogenic viruses, they can become infected with many diseases, including bird flu.


While it is unlikely that you would get sick with bird flu through direct contact with your roaming, infected pet, there is no 100% guarantee.


For example, in 2016, a human in New York City contracted H5N1 from an infected cat.


The person was a veterinarian.


Therefore, we recommend that basic hygiene practices and food safety measures must be applied in every possible scenario (whether at home or work) where one may be exposed to contaminated products, vectors, and fomites, avoiding transmission of many infectious diseases, including bird flu. 


These basic hygiene protocols include:


• Avoiding direct contact with live poultry, wild birds or their droppings.

If contact is made, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds


• Cooking poultry and eggs thoroughly before eating or feeding your pet


• Washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (e.g. before handling food or eating, after going to the toilet, or after coughing or sneezing)


If your pet cat or pet dog shows one of more clinical signs of respiratory issue after exposure to sick wild birds and dead wild birds’ carcasses, with symptoms like:


  1. Sneezing

  2. Nasal Discharge

  3. Loss of ability to vocalize

  4. Coughing

  5. Poor appetite

  6. Lethargy


Please contact your primary care veterinarian to seek medical attention as soon as you can.

Attribution: Technical report (CDC): Highly pathogenic Avian Influenza A (H5N1) Viruses Cambodia: Two Fatality Human H5N1 Avian Flu Infection Weston Phoebe (8 Dec 2023) Mass deaths of elephant seals recorded as bird flu sweeps across the Antarctic Influenza A, H7N9 is one of the strains of avian influenza (bird flu). Bird Flu in Pets and Other Animals (CDC) Wiener-Bronner Danielle (2 Dec 2023) Turkey prices are down. (CNN) What You Need to Know About Bird Flu (NParks)

Atypical Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease - USA

An atypical canine infectious respiratory disease (aCIRD) is causing an outbreak amongst dogs across the United States of America, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

It could be caused by a new type of bacterial infection that may be very good at evading the canine immune system.

Currently, full diagnostics panels for known canine respiratory diseases have not yielded significant positive results in infected dogs, and many US veterinary professionals, researchers, and laboratories are baffled.

Video Credit: CBS News: Mysterious dog respiratory illness spreading across US. 23 Nov 2023

Video Credit: NBC News: What we know about the mysterious illness hitting dogs. 6 Dec 2023

The affected dogs reportedly start off with a cough that resembles a kennel cough but last for a long 4- 6 weeks, with teary eyes and sneezing.


This week, the researchers at the University of New Hampshire’s Veterinary Diagnosis Laboratory and the Hubbard Center for Genome Studies reported that they may have identified the pathogen that might be making these dogs sick.


The researchers amassed and compared genetic sequencing of samples from an initial group of 30 infected dogs from New Hampshire last year and another 40 infected dogs from Rhode Island and Massachusetts this year, and concluded that they have discovered the culprit, a previously unknown germ.

Dr. David Needle, pathology section chief at the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture at the University of New Hampshire said: The culprit is “smaller than a normal bacterium in its size and in the size of its genome. Long story short, it is a weird bacterium that can be tough to find and sequence.”


There are no diagnostic tests available to identify the bacterium in-clinic currently.


Symptoms commonly seen in infected dogs include:


A) Persistent coughing, sneezing, loss of bark, lethargy, poor appetite, laboured breathing, and fever.


B) Respiratory system inflammation that is only slightly or not responsive to antibiotic treatments is common.


C) Progressing to chronic pneumonia that is only slightly or not responsive to antibiotics.


D) A sudden onset or acute pneumonia that rapidly becomes severe and often leads to severe illness or possibly death in as little as 24 to 36 hours.


So far there is little indication of a zoonotic risk.

There are no signs of this disease in Singapore at the time of publication.


Nevertheless, we recommend that owners:


A) Vaccinate their pet dogs with:

 i) Bordetella bronchiseptica

ii) Canine adenovirus

iii) Canine, parainfluenza virus

iv) Canine influenza viruses (H3N2 and H3N8)

B) Get a full diagnostic panel for canine respiratory diseases done if there are symptoms, to determine the actual cause of your pet dog’s respiratory condition.

C) To avoid areas that congregate a lot of dogs, e.g. dog parks, dog café, and boarding, especially for puppies, and unvaccinated dogs.



Treatment for the known pathogens that cause canine respiratory diseases usually resolves within 2-3 weeks at most.


Owners should work closely with their veterinarians and update them if their coughing dogs have symptoms that are worsening rapidly or remain unresolved despite 2 weeks of medication.

Attribution 1. 2. 3. 4. AVS

Updated 01 DEC 2023



The daily average temperature in Singapore is about 32° warmest /26°C coolest.


The highest daily maximum temperature of 36.3°C at Admiralty on Oct. 9, 2023


It is too hot and humid to exercise your dogs in the afternoon, especially if your dogs have extra blubber and long fluffy fur coat which does not allow efficient heat dissipation.


Please increase the water intake for your cats and dogs by adding water to canned food or cooked food.

If your pet has kidney issues OR requires fluid therapy due to other medical conditions


Please ensure that they have adequate water intake (whether via oral intake or subcutaneous therapy) and are kept cool.

If you suspect that your pets have succumbed to the weather, seek immediate medical attention.

Encourage your parrots to shower and eat more fresh vegetables and fruits.


Cool your rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and rodents by providing half frozen water bottles.

Please ensure that your pets drink cooled water throughout the day, before and after any outdoor adventures.

Add ice cubes into fresh drinking water to encourage drinking.


Turn on the fan for your pets, especially when you are not at home.






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