A spike in a disease impacting dogs that can spread to humans is causing alarm in Colorado and has been reported in several other states as well.
The disease is called leptospirosis, Dr. Laura Russell of Colorado Veterinary Specialist & Animal ER in Littleton told KMGH.
Russell said the clinic where she works has seen six dogs with the condition so far this year, well above the one or two per year it usually treats.
A similar spike was reported last month in Utah, according to KSL.
The outbreak is believed to have been spread by an infected dog who stayed at a pet resort.
In May, dog owners in Casa Grande, Arizona, were warned that dogs who frequented a specific dog park could be at risk of contracting the disease.
A report in People said infected dogs have also been reported in Oklahoma.
@CDCgov #epidemiology #publichealth @WHO @UN @NIH @HHSgov @US_FDA : #Leptospirosis can leap from dogs to #humans; cases in #Utah & #Oklahoma:https://t.co/jHznAlmgQb…
; Retweet. Gloria Poole,RN,artist;Springfield,Missouri
— Gloria Poole,RN,artist (@gloria_poole) October 17, 2019
The Centers for Disease Control say leptospirosis is spread through the urine of animals infected with the bacteria.
The bacteria mingles with either water or soil, and when other animals sniff those spots, they become infected.
‘The bacteria can enter the body through skin or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth), especially if the skin is broken from a cut or scratch. Drinking contaminated water can also cause infection,” the CDC says.
Humans can contract the disease through something as simple as a big dog slurp, because the bacteria can be transmitted by saliva.
People with the disease will show symptoms that include a high fever, headaches, body aches, jaundice and nausea.
Dogs, meanwhile, often pick up the disease in muddy areas where there is stagnant surface water.
Russell said a sudden increase in thirst can be one of the first signs of leptospirosis in dogs.
“One of the first symptoms of leptospirosis is that they’re drinking a ton of water, and then they go out and urinate, and sometimes they have urinary accidents because they’re drinking so much water,” she said.
The whites of a dog’s eyes can also turn yellow as the disease progresses, she said.
In one Oklahoma case, “the pet was not eating well, vomiting and had a yellow tint that you could tell the liver was affected,” Sara Rowland of Main St. Veterinary Hospital in Norman told KOCO.
“It causes failure, definitely kidney and liver failure,” she said.
There is a vaccine for dogs, but Russell admitted there can be significant side effects. Still, she said, the choice is either a touch of sickness or something worse.
Did you know that if your dog is not kept up to date with their vaccines they can contract deadly and life threatening illnesses’s such as Leptospirosis?#Leptospirosis #dog #vaccines pic.twitter.com/ZiFgbXS3jz
— Victoria Vets (@VictoriaVets_) October 15, 2019
“I’ve seen some pretty terrifying leptospirosis cases this year. I’m vaccinating my dogs this year for it,” Russell said.
Antibiotics are used to treat the disease in both humans and dogs.
The disease does not affect cats.
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