Potentially deadly disease making its way around dogs in Pima Co - Tucson News Now

Potentially deadly disease making its way around dogs in Pima County

(Source: Pablo/Buffer) (Source: Pablo/Buffer)
(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A bacterial disease called Leptospirosis, or Lepto, is making its way around dogs in Pima County. 

Pima Animal Care Center and the Pima County Health Department said there are seven confirmed cases in the county. This potentially deadly illness can cause kidney failure and liver disease. 

Lepto is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transferred to humans. 

Dr. Lindsay McCrady, assistant medical director at VCA Valley Animal Hospital, said Lepto is nothing new. 

“It’s been probably the most under diagnosed zoonotic disease in the country for quite some time," McCrady said. 

McCrady said there are better tests to detect the disease, which could be playing a part in the increase of cases. It is spread through standing water and from urine of infected animals. 

McCrady said Lepto is not common in the desert climate because the bacteria does not survive well in heat and dry conditions. 

“(The) most common carriers are going to be things like raccoons, rats and wild animals," McCrady said. 

Symptoms include loss of appetite, low energy, lack of urination, drinking and/or urinating more than usual, jaundice and redness in the eyes. It can take between 4 to 12 days for these to show up. 

Leptospirosis Vet Fact Sheet 2.3.17 by Tucson News Now on Scribd

Not only have the tests to diagnose lepto improved, McCrady said the vaccine has also become better.

“Over the recent years there's been development of a very good lepto vaccine that is cross protective against many of the different strains of lepto," McCrady said. “The caveat is that there is still some risk for reaction.” 

She said pet owners should talk to their vet about whether or not the vaccine is right for their dog. The vaccine requires two vet visits and can cost $12-20. 

Leptospirosis Vaccine Myths_AZ by Tucson News Now on Scribd

Some local dog owners who talked to Tucson News Now said they've already discussed the vaccine with their vets. 

Larry Ettinger said he first heard about Lepto about a month ago.

“Like any dog owner I was concerned about my dog obviously picking up any kind of disease that the park," he said.

Despite his concern, Ettinger said he decided against the vaccine. He said he's taking precautions to keep his dog healthy. 

Jim Strobe said it's been three weeks since he and his dog have visited a dog park. 

“We decided to stay out of the dog park because it's just too chancy," Strobel said. 

Strobel said he is considering the vaccine. 

McCrady said the vaccine is recommended for dogs that frequent parks, go to boarding facilities or areas with a lot of standing water. 

For more on vaccination clinics click HERE. 

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