Vets Warn of Bacteria Infecting San Diego Dogs


The bacterial illness leptospirosis is spreading quickly in San Diego County. Veterinarians throughout the county warn that the rising number of cases in dogs is tied to visiting local dog parks and boarding facilities.

The bacteria is more common in wet climates like Northern California and has been known to infect rats, cows, sea lions, and in rare cases humans.

Dr. Olsen of B Street Vet Hospital told NBC 7 San Diego that they have had more than a dozen dog hospitalizations in the last couple of months due to the illness, compared to only three cases in the last 10 years. Olsen also said, "Because a lot of dogs really haven’t had the exposure risk down here, it’s not something that we commonly vaccinate for."

According to the American Veterinary Medial Association: The signs of leptospirosis may include fever, shivering, muscle tenderness, reluctance to move, increased thirst, changes in the frequency or amount of urination, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes), or painful inflammation within the eyes.

Severe cases can affect the kidneys and put them in the hospital. If that occurs, survival rates is between 70-80%.

Dogs can also be asymptomatic and pass the bacteria to humans. The bacteria is most commonly spread the contact with urine, so if a dog is having accidents around the house or in their bed and people clean up after them, they are exposed to the bacteria.

Human symptoms of leptospirosis include headache, fever, muscle aches and chills. The CDC offers more details here.

You should contact your doctor AND your vet if any of these symptoms are apparent in you, your family, and your dog.

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