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Home Maidstone News Article
Dog owners are being warned of a potentially fatal infection dogs could pick up from flooded areas of Kent.
A Maidstone veterinary hospital has experienced a surge in concerned owners over the past two months since heavy rain left many parts of the county under water.
Leptospirosis is an infection that can cause fatal diseases in dogs - picked up by bacteria, particularly in stagnant water - and can also be transmitted to people.
Nigel Davies, from Newnham Court Veterinary Hospital, said: "The main concern is bacterium called leptospirosis, which causes fatal diseases in dogs and it can be transmitted to people.
"The big problem is that it's a bacterium which normally dies in winter when it's cold.
"With the excessive flooding, there's the potential for animals and people to be infected with diseases that aren't usually a major problem..." - vet Nigel Davies
"But when you have lots of stagnant water lying about, the bacteria can last and it can live quite a long time."
He added: "In conditions of flooding like this, the rodent population is displaced and the main factor of the bacterium is rodents, rats and small wildlife rodents."
Mr Davies said staff in Bearsted Road are receiving at least three queries a day from worried pet owners about how to protect their dogs from contaminated water.
"They're concerned," he said. "Obviously their dogs can pick up diseases from the flood water and they basically want to know what they can do to prevent any infections.
"People are worried about their homes, they're worried about their children - they tend to forget that dogs can pick up infections from dirty water.
"With the excessive flooding, there's the potential for animals and people to be infected with diseases that aren't usually a major problem."
Mr Davies is now urging all dog owners to avoid walking their dogs in areas that have been badly flooded.
He said: "Try to avoid contact with stagnant water. Try to not take dogs where there is lots of water that's been lying about for a while.
"If they've been into dirty water, just give them a rinse. Especially if you use warm water - you'll kill the bacteria.
"I think the important thing is not to panic, but just to be aware.
"People should also take basic precautions - as this this disease can affect people as well. If people are getting their hands dirty in this water, they should wash their hands too."
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