RYAN URBAN WRITES: Dogs are a man’s best friend.

But every now and then these furry little guys bring home something they shouldn’t. Most dogs bring home mud and dirt, but not in Singapore, a city-state known for its cleanliness. Dog owners in Singapore have come home to dogs who have somehow picked up a life threatening bacterial diseases.

The focus of the potential epidemic is in Buhit Timah, a residential hub in the center of tiny Singapore.  Dog owners who bring their pets to Sunny Heights, the well-known doggy daycare center there,  have reported an alarming number of doggy deaths in the last month.

The common cause of death among the pets, a bacterial disease called leptospirosis. The strain of bacteria which causes the disease is transferred through contact with the urine of someone infected, which can get into water or soil and can survive there for weeks to months. Dogs and humans are equally susceptible to the disease.

Once infected with the bacterial disease, both dogs and humans will show no symptoms of the illness for two to four weeks. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that after the two-four weeks symptoms include but are not limited to: high fever headache, muscle aches, vomiting, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).

Twelve cases of the bacterial disease broke out in this past month, most of which were cases where the owners sent their dogs to Sunny Height’s dog center.

Manager at Sunny Heights, Robert Baan, told Asia One, he had been taking his three dogs to to the daycare center for years. He also noted that his two West Highland terriers had died while attending the daycare one in June and one in July. Both of the dogs were attending Sunny Heights daycare at the time and showed symptoms of leptospirosis, including vomiting and liver and kidney issues.

Sunny Heights owner, Derrick Tan, was informed of the first case at the end of June and stopped receiving dogs at the center almost immediately on July 4 as a precautionary measure. Sunny Heights has since notified owners of the recent epidemic and disinfected the entire facility.

This past week The Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) in Singapore has shown that they will not take any chances with the recent epidemic by implementing an order of complete isolation.

All dogs in the Bukit Timah area are now prohibited from entering or exiting the premises during the investigation unless given special authorization by the AVA.

But even with the order of complete isolation the AVA has stated some of those infected may still be carrying without knowing it. Thus they have issued a warning, in conjunction with the CDC,  to all dog owners to be careful when cleaning up after their dogs. Pet owners should wear protective clothing, especially footwear and gloves which cover up to the forearm when dealing with any form of animal urination.

So far, no other animals have yet been infected with the life threatening disease in or outside of Singapore. But with the recent increase in pet travel over the years both in and out of the “cleanly” city-state, pet owners worldwide must take precautions against these disease carrying animals to avoid something like the zika mosquito outbreak.

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