Veterinarians Warn About Dangerous Disease For Dogs And Humans

By: Parrish Alleman Email
By: Parrish Alleman Email

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wichita veterinarians are warning pet owners about a potentially fatal disease that affects dogs and humans.

It's called leptospirosis and it's usually caused by exposure to water that's been contaminated by animal urine.

Vets say typically dogs who live in the country, go hunting, or spend time near water are more likely to pick up the disease. But in the past few years they say the city of Wichita has become a hot spot for leptospirosis cases and they're not sure why.

Ali and Austin McKeown say last week took their dog Axi to the vet last week because she wasn't feeling well.

"She wasn't running around, just wanted to be close to us,” Ali McKeown said.

A few hours later, they got a call from their vet, explaining Axi's kidneys were in trouble.

“They told us they didn't think she'd be making it. It was really hard because we weren't expecting that,” McKeown said.

Dr. Gary Stamps says tests revealed Axi had leptospirosis, a bacterial disease spread through the urine of wildlife.

"Wildlife that we have here in town: skunks, racoons, rodents,” veterinarian Dr. Stamps said.

That's why Dr. Stamps says he's seen more and more pets picking up the disease, right in their own back yards.

"You know the cases I see here in town are here in town and I’ve seen probably five or six cases in the last year and a half,” Dr. Stamps said.

Veterinarians say leptospirosis isn't just a danger for dogs, humans are at risk too.

"If your dog has leptospirosis or you come into contact with urine from a dog than people can get it as well and become very ill,” veterinarian Dr. Mollie Lusk said.

The best way to protect yourself, especially if your dog is sick, is to wash your hands often. For dogs: vets say the quicker they can catch the disease, the better.

"It's also an important disease to be looking for because it is treatable and it is preventable. There is a vaccine that is available for use in the dog,” Dr. Stamps said.

After a few days on antibiotics, Axi is back to her old self again. Although her owners say when she's running around outside now, they keep a closer eye on her.

"Now I’m more cautious of that especially if it rains and there's standing water because that's the first thing she'll go to,” McKeown said.

Vets say the symptoms for leptospirosis can vary. If your dog isn't feeling well and you think they may have come into contact with contaminated water, let your vet know.

While the disease is dangerous and potentially fatal in humans, it is treatable. The symptoms are similar to the flu.

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