What You Need To Know About Leptospirosis

1) What is leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease caused by Leptospira spp. The disease is present worldwide and is more prevalent in tropical climates including in Singapore. It can cause disease in both animals and humans. Leptospirosis is a notifiable animal disease in Singapore, and veterinarians are required to report suspected or confirmed cases to AVS. If you have further enquiries or feedback, you may also wish to contact us using our online feedback form at

2) How is leptospirosis transmitted? What is the risk of transmission to humans?

Rodents are considered the primary source of infection to pets and human beings. The bacteria is present in the urine and bodily fluids (except saliva) of infected animals. The bacteria can remain in the soil or stagnant water for months making it difficult to eliminate the risk of transmission from the environment.

Dogs may be exposed through cuts and abrasions of the skin, or through mucous membranes, via direct or indirect contact with urine in water or soil that may be contaminated, such as in areas that are home to rats and other rodents, which are potential carriers of Leptospira.

Transmission to humans usually involves direct contact of the skin and mucous membranes with the urine, body fluids or tissues of infected animals.

How does the bacteria affect dogs and humans?

Early clinical signs can be non-specific. Affected dogs may present signs such as lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Dogs may also exhibit jaundice (yellowing of mucous membrane) as the liver may be affected.  Infected dogs can be treated with antibiotics but some may succumb to the infection due to acute renal failure.


Clinical signs of leptospirosis in humans include fever, headache, muscle aches, jaundice, red eyes, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and rash. The majority of human cases are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms; in some, the disease can be severe and even fatal. Leptospirosis is treatable with good recovery outcomes if detected early and treated appropriately. The public is advised to promptly seek medical attention should they develop symptoms. They should practise good personal hygiene at all times, especially after the handling of animals, or if they are in contact with soil or water that may be contaminated by animal urine.  

4) What can members of public do to keep their pets and themselves safe?

An important prevention measure for pet dogs is vaccination and regular boosters with a polyvalent vaccine. Vaccination lowers the risk of infection, and offers protection from severe disease and hospitalisation.


Dog owners are advised to reduce their dogs’ exposure to water on the ground or soil (e.g. on wet or muddy ground) in areas that can harbour small rodents such as rats, which are potential carriers of Leptospira.


Clinic staff and animal owners are advised to take necessary precautions when handling animals suspected or confirmed to be infected. The use of gloves when handling animals and washing of hands with soap after handling animals are highly recommended. Other appropriate precautions include wearing disposable gowns, shoe covers, face shields, face masks and hairnets.


Surfaces that may be contaminated or contain urine from an infected pet should be cleaned using antibacterial cleaning solutions or household bleach. Leptospira spp. is known to be susceptible to disinfectants including 1% sodium hypochlorite, 70% ethanol, glutaraldehyde, detergents and acid.


5) I suspect my pet has leptospirosis. What should I do?

Please bring your pet to your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will assess the animal and inform AVS in the event of a suspected leptospirosis infection.


6) My pet has been diagnosed with leptospirosis. What should I do?

Do avoid direct handling of or contact with urine and blood from your pet. If necessary, protective coverings such as gloves should be worn. You should also wash your hands with soap after handling the pet or anything that might have the pet's excrement on it. Surfaces that may be contaminated or contain urine from an infected pet should be cleaned using antibacterial cleaning solutions or household bleach. If your pet is infected with leptospirosis, you may also wish to seek medical attention to discuss treatment options for yourself and household members.  


7) What should I do if I see rodents in my estate?

You can contact a pest control company or your Town Councils if you see rodents in your estate or neighbourhood. You can also make a report on the One Service App. You may find more information on rat control on: