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New strains of leptospirosis emerging
MSD Animal Health calls for updated vaccine

A leader in global animal healthcare has addressed the threat to vaccinated dogs posed by new strains of leptospirois.

While dogs are commonly protected against two "traditional" strains of the disease, called canicola and icterohaemorrhagiae, there is evidence that the vaccine is no longer as effective as in the past.

Tests have shown that new strains australis and grippotyphosa are becoming more and more prevalent in the UK and across Europe.

As a result, MSD Animal Health took steps to increase awareness at the recent British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) Congress, held in Birmingham.

It announced that veterinary surgeons from six European countries and the United States met last year to discuss the issue of leptospirosis resistance in dogs.

During the meeting, the most up-to-date research was shared and the conclusion was that the current bivalent leptospirosis vaccinations were no longer providing adequate protection.

Canine leptospirosis is an infectious disease that most commonly damages the liver and kidney. While the disease tends to be very difficult to diagnose, it can cause fatality within a short period of time.

The case of a six-year-old, fully-vaccinated and otherwise healthy labrador was shared by Jonathan Horlock, of Marches Vets, Herefordshire.

"All the symptoms shown were generalised – the dog was off its food and had a slightly raised temperature. We were suspicious of leptospirosis as we'd already seen a couple of cases, so we sent the dog to Bristol University for a diagnosis."

Despite confirmation of leptospirosis, Mr Horlock said the symptoms were too acute and the dog didn't respond to treatment.

"Unfortunately, the dog died."

Mr Horlock added that a more up-to-date vaccine is needed to ensure dogs are safe from new strains of the disease.

"The difficultly with leptospirosis is that it's hard to diagnose, because the symptoms are generalised, yet treatment needs to be immediate," he commented.

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Charities' XL bully neutering scheme closes

News Story 1
 A scheme that helped owners of XL bully dogs with the cost of neutering has closed to new applications due to high demand.

The scheme, run by the RSPCA, Blue Cross, and Battersea, has helped 1,800 dogs and their owners after XL bullies were banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

In England and Wales, owners of XL bully dogs which were over one year old on 31 January 2021 have until 30 June 2024 to get their dog neutered. If a dog was between seven months and 12 months old, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024. If it was under seven months old, owners have until 30 June 2025.

More information can be found on the Defra website. 

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News Shorts
Avian flu cattle outbreak spreads to tenth US state

Cattle in two dairy herds in Iowa have tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), making it the tenth state in the USA to be affected by the ongoing outbreak of the disease in cattle.

Since March 2024, more than 80 herds across the USA have been affected by the virus and three dairy workers have tested positive. Authorities have introduced measures to limit the spread of the virus and farmers have been urged to strengthen their biosecurity protocols.

Mike Naig, Iowa secretary of agriculture, said: "Given the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within dairy cattle in many other states, it is not a surprise that we would have a case given the size of our dairy industry in Iowa.

"While lactating dairy cattle appear to recover with supportive care, we know this destructive virus continues to be deadly for poultry."