A rare bacterial disease that can potentially harm pets and their owners has recently been reported in the United States.
Just last week, Sarah Rowland, a veterinarian at Main St. Veterinary Hospital in Norman, Okla., treated a puppy that had contracted the disease, and is warning dog owners of the deadly consequences if left untreated.
“In this instance, the pet was not eating well, vomiting and had a yellow tint that you could tell the liver was affected,” Rowland told local ABC affiliate KOCO last week. “It causes failure, definitely kidney and liver failure.”
This case comes just one month after more than a dozen dogs had contracted the disease in a boarding kennel in Utah, according to KUTV.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Leptospirosis can spread to humans through breaks in the skin and mucous membranes (eyes, mouth, nose) from being around urine from an infected dog, or playing in shared pools with the dog.
Dogs are typically infected by the disease through contact with water contaminated by rat urine — whether that’s swimming in standing water or drinking from puddles.
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In humans, Leptospirosis can cause a wide range of symptoms, including: high fever, chills, vomiting, and jaundice (yellow skin and eyes, to name a few. However, some infected persons may have no symptoms at all. If left untreated, it can lead to kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, or death, the CDC reports.
To prevent the spread of the disease, health officials recommend wearing protective clothing or footwear when exposed to potentially contaminated water or soil.
According to Rowland, there is also a vaccine owners can get for their pets to protect against the disease.