Good news for Halifax furbabies: lepto scare a false alarm
If there’s one truth about social media, it’s that even something that is false can spread quickly online.
Over the weekend, a single post informing dog owners about a disease believed to be back in the Halifax area went viral.
The only problem is that there isn't a single case of leptospirosis in the region, and that made Katie Doucette breathe a sigh of relief.
Doucette’s dog, Diesel, is a healthy and active dog these days and that’s a big difference from two years ago when he got leptospirosis.
“We were all set to say our goodbyes at that point,” Doucette said. “We were pretty sure we weren't going to be able to bring him home.”
The bacteria that causes leptospirosis, or lepto, is spread through the urine of infected animals, which can get into water and soil and survive there for months.
Lepto can affect a variety of animals -- sometimes fatally -- including dogs.
Diesel recovered, but the whole ordeal came with a lot of stress and a hefty price tag.
“It was very expensive,” Doucette said. “It ended up being almost six grand."
Halifax saw an outbreak of lepto a few years ago, and over the weekend, a post on social media indicated the infectious disease was back.
Veternarians like Dr. Eric Carnagy say that isn't true.
“We are not seeing cases, so, it's not a problem,” Carnagy said. “Not to say that it couldn't become, because it certainly was a problem here a few years ago.”
Carnagy says a lot of people have vaccinated their dogs since the last outbreak of lepto, keeping it at bay.
Tiffany Sullivan, with Playful Paws Doggy Daycare, was one of the people who saw the post online and initially thought the disease might be back.
“It seemed to all kind of stem from one post and then like wildfire, it kind of spread through the dog community,” Sullivan said.
“I think that if we take anything from what happened yesterday, that it's great that everyone is taking lepto so seriously and that everyone was so on edge about lepto because, it is very, very dangerous.”
Social media experts say rumours that aren't true, like lepto being back in town, often spread a lot faster than the truth.
“It's very common for things to get spread around really quickly, without people checking, because, they believe whoever shared it with them,” said Anita Kirkbride, a social media expert. “They figure, well, if my mother shared it, if my sister shared it, if my best friend shared it, it must be true, but they're not thinking about the fact that person assumed the same about whoever shared it with them.”
Although there are no cases of lepto in Halifax at this time, Carnagy says there is a vaccine available for high-risk dogs, like those that use dog parks.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Natasha Pace.