Leptospirosis making resurgence in Valley; concerns for dogs, people

AHWATUKEE, AZ - Leptospirosis spiked in the Valley a few months ago and health officials are seeing a resurgence. The concern is not just for your dogs, but for people too.

Craig Levy, a epizoologist with the Maricopa County Health Department, knows of over 70 reported cases in dogs, but believes the disease is grossly under-reported. So far, no human cases have been reported in Maricopa County.

Leptospirosis is a bacteria that loves heat and moisture. It spreads through urine. Dogs often catch it by drinking contaminated water. That's how people can get it, too.

"Protecting your dog protects you," said Levy. "You may want to isolate your dog from other dogs in the household and do some proper infection anytime your dog makes a mess, things like that can always protect people."

Levy said the disease can be difficult to identify, because the symptoms are so general. Common symptoms include fever, loss of appetite and muscle pain.

There is a vaccine available for dogs that many veterinarians are highly recommending.

Dr. Jeffrey Jenkins owns the Ahwatukee Animal Care Hospital, which includes a boarding facility. He is now advising his clients include the Lepto vaccine in their dogs' yearly shots.

An antibiotic can treat the disease. Dr. Jenkins said it's important to get your dog checked out quickly if you think he or she is infected with the bacteria.

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