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Recent Rise In Bacterial Disease In Dogs Continues To Concern Edgewater Residents And Vets

lepto-2leptospirosis is the name of the bacterial disease that recently had a  sharp rise in canine cases on Chicago’s North side in late September of this year. The illness can be deadly, causing kidney failure in 90 percent of infected dogs and liver failure in 10 to 20 percent. To make things worse, humans who come into contact with infected animals run the risk of getting the disease as well.

The bacteria is spread through standing water containing infected rats’ and raccoons’ urine. Dogs who consume the tainted water in puddles, water bowls and such, run the risk of getting lepto. The recent rise in rat populations in Chicago coupled with wet weather increases the risk of the bacteria, which can live in the soil for months.

Katie Baldwin, DVM, Medical Director at VCA Misener-Holley Animal Hospital explained that she has not seen any recent cases at her clinic, but area resident should be aware of the health issues in their pets. She said, “The signs to look out for are depression, fever, stiffness or sore muscles, vomiting, and loss of appetite.  The signs are fairly non specific, so it is important if your dog is sick with any of these issues to get them seen as soon as possible.”

Humans can contact the bacteria as well through water, soil, urine and bodily fluids except saliva. It can enter ones body through the eyes, mouth, nose, skin or open sores.

“Lepto is so dangerous because it does present as a nonspecific illness and can be mistaken for other conditions. If it is not tested for, sometimes the disease will progress before getting the right treatment,” said Baldwin. “Most people will only get flu-like symptoms, but in some cases it can cause much more serious disease.”

Baldwin recommends getting your dog vaccinated for the virus. However, because the vaccine does not always work, pet owners are encouraged to be extra diligent and avoid standing water in the area. Also, be sure to wipe your pets’ paws after daily walks, especially in wet weather.

Hat Tip: NBC5

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