Lepto on the increase in the Pacific Northwest

Food, Fitness and how to keep them healthy.

Postby turtle » January 12th, 2006, 10:35 pm

I saw this news story and thought it was worth posting.

Lepto used to be fairly rare but Washington state is having an increase in cases. They've had about a month straight of rain out there which probably doesn't help.

Leptospirosis is carried by rats and spread by their urine. I've also read that the vaccine is not 100% effective.

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Rare, fatal disease showing up in Vashon Island dogs


By ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News


VASHON ISLAND, Wash. - Madalyn Marlatt's dog Goldie made another visit to the vet on Wednesday. He is slowly recovering from a frightening case of leptospirosis.

“He didn't eat, was real lethargic before I brought him here, and spent four days in the animal hospital,” said Marlatt.

Veterinarians across Vashon Island are seeing a strange outbreak of the disease - the first reports here in about a quarter century.

Since just last month at least 11 dogs have contracted lepto. Two of them have died.

Dogs usually pick up the bacteria by drinking out of puddles contaminated with rodent urine.

Symptoms include red eyes, muscle aches, lethargy and vomiting, and the disease can kill quickly.

“Some of the dogs got pretty severe liver and kidney disease. One dog in particular the kidneys just shut down in like a two-day period,” said Dr. Nell Coffman, of Fair Island Animal Clinic.

Health officials aren't exactly sure how or why the outbreak happened on Vashon Island but they are concerned because the disease can be spread to humans.

Veterinarians across King, Pierce and Snohomish counties have treated dozens of lepto cases over the past 18 months.

And while no human cases have been reported, the disease can cause serious liver and kidney damage in people and in rare cases prove deadly.

“So you need to protect yourself and your family from contact with your dog's urine. So, if your dog has an accident and you have to clean it up -- put some rubber gloves on, protect yourself and wash your hands afterwards,” said Dr. Jane Koehler of Seattle-King County Public Health.

In the meantime, veterinarians say watch for those symptoms and don't wait to get your dog to a doctor.

Health officials think a spike in the rat population on Vashon Island may be contributing to the outbreak. They advise people everywhere to keep dog and bird food out of reach of rodents.

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http://www.king5.com/localnews/stories/ ... 8a364.html
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