UF vets see spike in dog disease

Disease can spread to humans


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida veterinarians are seeing a recent spike in cases of leptospirosis in dogs at UF's Small Animal Hospital.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can cause serious liver and kidney damage and even death, not only to dogs but to humans. Vets don't normally vaccinate dogs for the disease, but in the last six months, they've seen several cases of it.

"We weren't seeing the disease, it just wasn't around anymore, so a lot of the veterinarians weren't vaccinating," said Craig Sandler, of Lakewood Veterinary.

Infected dogs can spread the disease to humans through urine and standing water.

"It can cause the same thing, kidney problems in people, so yeah, it's a pretty serious disease," Sandler said. "(To catch it), the dog could either lap up water from a stagnant water source or even (by) just walking through it."

Signs of leptospirosis in dogs vary and can be nonspecific. Those typically include lethargy, depression, lack of interest in eating, vomiting, fever and/or abdominal pain, along with changes in the frequency of urination.

All canine patients with acute kidney injury should be tested for leptospirosis. If caught early, the disease responds well to antibiotics.

"There is a very good, safe vaccine to prevent it," Sandler said.

Leptospirosis only affects dogs, rodents and humans. Doctors advise pet owners to be careful when they're cleaning up after their pets.

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