Sick Sea Lions Stranded on Oregon Coast Could Impact Health of Dogs, Officials Warn

On Halloween, wildlife officials off Oregon’s coast sent out a warning to dog owners that their pets could be impacted by an outbreak of leptospirosis, a naturally occurring bacteria that can occur sporadically in marine mammals. Unfortunately, the bacteria can also sicken other wildlife — not to mention humans, dogs, and livestock, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife informed the public. They noted that while the risk to humans is slight, dogs have a higher chance of getting the disease.

sea lions oregon coast
Photo: Pixabay/mcgrout

Oregon Sea Lions

The signs of leptospirosis in sea lions include dehydration and increased thirst, as well as vomiting, depression, and an unwillingness or inability to use their hind flippers. While it depends on the actual strain of bacteria involved, the symptoms experienced are said to be similar in canines and other mammals, and that they are often the result of kidney or liver dysfunction. For sea lions, leptospirosis outbreaks can result in increased strandings and lead to death. While this particular outbreak was documented in late July, the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network has been keeping tabs on the situation since that time.

Marine Mammal Institute

Run by the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University, the Stranding Network has reportedly documented in excess of 150 sick or dead sea lions along the coast to date. Department officials noted seven sea lions have had necropsies performed so far, and all of them tested positive for the bacterial disease. They urge the public not to harass, touch, or feed marine mammals. Doing so is a direct violation of both federal and state laws. “Marine mammals on the beach are often just resting or are sick and should be left alone,” they explained.

Sea Lions astoria, oregon
Photo: Pixabay/Kemble_Cloud

Dogs & Leptospirosis

Beach goers are being told to keep their dogs on a leash and to stay at a safe distance of at least 150 feet away from the sea lions. It’s also recommended that dog and horse owners contact their veterinarians to discuss the need for vaccinating their animals against leptospirosis. It’s spread when an animal or human comes into contact with the urine of infected or dead sea lions and/or other bodily fluids, hence the decision to warn visitors to keep a safe distance. If you live in the area or are visiting, you really should heed their warnings.

People, Pets & Planet

Help where it’s needed most at GreaterGood for free!