Lane Cove Dogs Mystery Illness

    This week ITC readers have been posting about their dogs becoming ill after visiting local parks and playgrounds.  The cause of their illness remains a mystery.  There are several different illnesses which could be linked to the outbreak.


    Last week, the University of Sydney Veterinary Teaching Hospital identified two cases of Leptospirosis. Last year in the inner west eight cases of Leptospirosis identified were identified

    This week North Shore Veterinary Hospital also identified a case of Leptospirosis in the lower north shore.

    Leptospirosis, in dogs, usually presents with non-specific signs such as lethargic, elevated body temperature, vomiting, and diarrhoea. It often progresses to symptoms consistent with liver and kidney failure.

    Dogs become infected by being in contact with urine from rats or indirectly via contaminated water or soil. They can also become infected by hunting and eating rats.

    Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease which means that humans can become infected.

    Sydney Animal Hospital reported the following:

    Leptospirosis Update 25th August 2020:

    Sadly yesterday there was another confirmed Leptospirosis case, this time the dog was from Crows Nest. The dog was not vaccinated against Leptospirosis and sadly was euthanized due to anuric renal failure. They were unable to determine the causative serovar in this case – likely due to insufficient time for seroconversion. This is the first reported case of Leptospirosis from Crows Nest.

    Last year there were 8 confirmed Leptospirosis cases between May and November and these dogs lived or visited Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Glebe and Redfern. This month there has been 2 Leptospirosis cases recorded from Newtown and Balmain. While the dog from Newtown was also euthanized the dog from Balmain has been discharged from the hospital and is recovering well. In both these cases Copenhageni was identified as the causative serovar.

    Therefore, we recommend vaccination against Leptospirosis in dogs who live or visit the Inner West of Sydney, North Shore plus the Northern Beaches areas or if a dog is in contact with rats.



    Dogs in Sydney’s inner west, and Lismore, have died after being diagnosed with the virus in the past few weeks.

    Parvovirus or ‘parvo’ is a highly infectious viral disease that attacks tissues with rapidly dividing cells, causing death. The virus is highly contagious, can survive up to a year in the environment and favours hot, humid conditions. Young puppies and unvaccinated dogs are at higher risk of contracting this disease.

    Herbicide Spraying

    The reports of dogs being ill started in the same week as Lane Cove Council began their annual herbicide spraying of local parks and playgrounds.

    We asked local dog owners with sick dogs if they could tell us which park they went to and the date of the visit.  We were looking for a correlation between the time of the park visit and the spraying date.  Spraying started in the week commencing 17th August 2020.

    At this stage, we have not found enough overlap between the visits and becoming sick to come to any conclusion.  There were quite a few reports of dogs being sick in the week before spraying started.

    Lane Cove Council published the following spraying dates after being contacted by concerned residents

    Park Date
    106 Tambourine Bay Road 18-Aug
    266 Longueville Road* 19-Aug
    Aquatic Park 18-Aug
    Bayview Park 19-Aug
    Blackman Park – all areas excluding playing fields and  dog park 17-Aug (7:30 am -8:40 am)
    Bob Campbell – around picnic setting & BBQ area 19-Aug
    Burns Bay Reserve 18-Aug (8:15am –  9:00am)
    Carlotta playground (Evelyn St) 19-Aug
    Central Park* 18-Aug
    Charlish Park 18-Aug
    Corner of Ffrench St and Bent St 19-Aug
    Cullen Park 18-Aug
    Cunninghams Reach 18-Aug
    Gamma Reserve* 18-Aug
    Goodlet Reserve 17-Aug
    Opposite Greenwich Wharf 19-Aug
    Greenwich Park 19-Aug
    Greenwich Sailing Club 19-Aug
    Griffith Park 19-Aug
    Hands Quarry Reserve* 17-Aug
    Helen St Reserve 17-Aug
    Holloway Res (end of Vista St) 19-Aug
    Hughes Park 18-Aug
    Jago Street
    Kellys Esp (opposite 1 Kellys Esp) 18-Aug
    Kingsford Smith Oval (outside oval only) 20-Aug (5:20 am – 6:00 am)
    Leemon Reserve 19-Aug
    Longueville Reserve 20-Aug
    Marjorie York Playground 18-Aug
    Manns Point 19-Aug
    Mary Carlson Park 19-Aug
    Newlands Park 19-Aug
    Shell Park 19-Aug
    Stringybark Reserve 17-Aug
    St Lawrence (end of – above the baths) 19-Aug
    Tambourine Bay Park 18-Aug
    Turrumburra Dog Park 17-Aug


    Please let us know if your dog became ill after visiting a park above on the date of spraying.  You can contact us via email [email protected]

    The herbicide that was sprayed has been used annually for a while, and this is the first year where we have had reports of dogs being ill around spraying time.

    However, in July 2019, Lane Cove Council came under fire from residents about poor signage at parks and playgrounds notifying residents about pesticides spraying.

    Notification of a pesticides spraying programme was posted on the council’s website; however, the signage at parks was not prominent.

    The sign below was at Blackman Park and was not seen until a resident left the play area. Other residents reported seeing the spray below.

    Last year, spraying also occurred at Bob Campbell Oval, the feedback we received from park users was they did not see any signage. Lane Cove Council has advised they will be working with their contractors to approve signage.

    When ITC raised this issue with LCC last year, they responded as follow:

    “Council’s contractor has been doing some Bindi spraying and they have been putting signs up as per Council’s pesticide notification plan. The sign complies with Council requirements however Council would prefer signs be more prominent. Council is working with the contractor to improve signage”

    At a Lane Cove Council meeting discussing glysophate usage, Lane Cove Council admitted that on some occasions the signs were not conspicuous enough to be noticed by the community. Lane Cove Council agreed to revisit its signage strategy and possibly use more prominent A-frame based and broader signage strategy, that will not be more obvious to the community.

    In 2020 although the signage has been upgraded (see cover photo), Lane Cove Council signage and communication of the spraying has again been criticized.  There were reports that signage was only posted in one location in a park (that could have several entry points).

    A notice about pesticides spraying was displayed on their website, and a date range for spraying was notified.  Details of the spraying was not posted on the Lane Cove Council Facebook page.

    The following was posted on Lane Cove Chat

    “****Warning**** – I noticed a Council weed spraying sign go up at Stringy Bark Creek reserve (on Murray St & Karilla Ave) and it’s a leash free park.

    I noticed the day after (18th aug) they did the spraying (17th aug) and the sign was only at the Murray Street entrance.. there are 3 other entrances to the park, one of which I went through, so I didn’t know until I left.”

    Decided to brave it this afternoon and took our Phoebe to Burns Bay Reserve – making sure she was too busy chasing her ball to sniff/eat grass. Low and behold we spotted this one single sign, near the little footbridge – the only one that we saw in the whole park, despite there being many entrances.”

    Figtree Vet

    We asked Figtree Vet if they had noticed an increase in dogs presenting with symptoms associated with pesticide poisoning.  Dr Michelle Trebeck  BVSc, Hospital Director advised the following:

    “I have seen the chat about this online. We haven’t seen a significant increase in unwell dogs in the last week or so, though hard to say as COVID has definitely increased the rate of animals we are seeing with vomiting and diarrhoea in general (suspected to be through people at home more feeding their dogs more human foods/treats). We definitely haven’t had animals with seizures, respiratory problems etc.

    MCPA has been fairly extensively tested and only appears to cause issues in dogs if given in large doses or over a prolonged period. Animals may show mild gastrointestinal signs if they walk on the herbicide and lick their paws or ingest the grass, in the period before it dries (or if it rains and becomes wet again over the next couple of days). It is recommended to keep pets away on the day of spraying and wash their feet on returning home if exposure may have occurred.

    If you see any signs of your animal being unwell and you suspect poisoning- vomiting, diarrhoea, hyper-salivation, tremors, seizures or weakness/lethargy, please call your vet for advice. We will likely need to see them and give symptomatic treatment; they may be required to be hospitalised in more serious cases.”



    Canine Cough

    Kennel cough is a contagious dog infection that causes tracheobronchitis, which is the inflammation of the lining in airways and can be spotted by a harsh dry cough.

    In May 2020 the Inner West Council posted the following warning on its Facebook page:

    “We’ve received a few reports of dogs being diagnosed with Canine Cough after visiting local parks. Please contact your vet if your dog is showing any of the symptoms below.

    Canine Cough, also known as Kennel Cough, is an infectious respiratory disease in dogs. It is spread via contact between dogs when playing, mouthing, sharing toys and water bowls and can be easily transmitted between dogs in any area where dogs congregate such as parks, kennels, dog training clubs and day cares.

    Canine Cough symptoms usually present as a persistent ‘hacking’ type cough. The coughing can be made worse by exercise and some dogs may stop eating or become depressed and lethargic.

    If your dog is showing symptoms of Canine Cough, please do not exercise them around other dogs or allow them to share toys or water bowls.”


    Dr Michelle Tre beck  BVSc, Hospital Director  advised ITC they were seeing more cases of Canine cough (Kennel cough) in the last month or so – people should isolate their coughing dogs and call for advice. Also ensuring dogs are up to date with their vaccinations, as if they do still catch Canine cough, their symptoms should be milder and their recovery faster.”

    What to Do to Protect your Dog

    It might be a good idea to check that your dog is up to date with all their vaccinations and if your dog displays any of the symptoms referred to above, see a vet as soon as possible.

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