rats carry deadly virus

Dogs, rats and the deadly bacterial infection that is on the rise

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Rain, rats, and standing water – a potentially deadly combination for dogs who may contract a bacterial infection known as Leptospirosis if they ingest bacteria tainted water. Dog who lap up standing water, which has been contaminated by rats, run the risk of falling ill with Leptospirosis and if it isn’t treated promptly, the infection could claim their life.

According to Tuesday’s NBC Chicago, cases of Leptospirosis are on the rise in the Chicago area because the population of rats is going up. Dr. Natalie Marks of Blum Animal Hospital in Chicago described how dogs can contract the illness:

Our dogs are susceptible to lepto from consuming the water on the street or stepping in it in their paws and a lot of dogs have allergies this time of year and then licking themselves when they come in.

What should an owner look for if they are concerned about Leptospirosis? According to PetMD, dogs who contract the infection may exhibit multiple symptoms, including fever, lethargy, sore muscles, shivering, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, depression, cough, runny nose and possibly bloody vaginal discharge.

Dogs which exhibit any or all of these symptoms should be taken to a veterinarian for an exam. Owners should be aware that the infection can be spread to humans as well – it has been advised to help prevent the infection by wiping down dog paws with baby wipes and attempt to stop dogs from drinking standing water.

Of note, there is a vaccination for the Leptospirosis infection – consult with a veterinarian for more information about the effectiveness of the vaccine.

(Photo via Wikipedia free commons)

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1 reply
  1. Linda Szymoniak says:

    We never had to worry about lepto in the past, but it’s been found in the Chicago area, so vets in our area are now adding it to the standard vaccination schedule. My dogs have all had it for the past 2-3 years and will from now on.


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