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Veterinarians warning lepto outbreak among dogs in Western New York

Posted at 6:21 PM, Nov 04, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — There are some growing concerns among pet owners after several cases of leptospirosis were found in local dogs.

Western New York veterinarians are now reminding pet owners of what they can do to keep their pets safe.

Lepto is a bacterial infection that can attack a dog's liver, kidneys, and eyes.

The disease can remain in the animal's body after it has been treated and even spread to humans. Dogs can pick it up in muddy areas where water and soil is frequented by other wildlife.

The Veterinary Emergency Clinic told 7ABC's Pheben Kassahun that the clinic has seen about 24 cases in the last month. Ken-Ton Animal Clinic has seen four.

One family in Tonawanda lost their dog to the disease and shared their story with 7ABC.

When Kaitlyn Keser and her family first brought their Oslow home, in late October from a breeder, they never foresaw the time he spent with them would be cut short.

"He was 7 weeks old when we got him. He had his first round of vaccines," Keser said.

Three weeks later, the 10-week-old blue heeler-border collie mix was taken to the Veterinary Emergency Clinic, on Genesee Street, where the family learned he had contracted leptospirosis.

"He threw up on the way home. We thought it was car-sickness because he had that early when we got him too. We didn't think much of it until Halloween, he started throwing up a little more," Keser said. "It was phlegm. It wasn't food he wasn't able to digest anything or really even water. He was throwing up five times every hour. "

At the time of the bacterial infection, the pup was too young to receive the lepto vaccine. It caused so much irreversible damage to Oslow's liver and kidney.
We had to take the unfortunate action and not let him suffer through it anymore," she said.

Ellicott Street Animal Hospital director and owner, Dr. R. Reed Stevens said, "Turning yellow or some people call it jaundices or icteric, if their gums are turning yellow, their eyes are turning yellow, the inside of their ears turning yellow. That's a very advanced disease."

Dr. Stevens said cases of lepto among dogs are common in the fall.

Dr. Stevens said, "The key point is, if things are wet, which they are in the fall, like they are today, they are at risk of getting leptospirosis if they are not protected."

The bacteria is usually carried in the urine of small animals like mice, rats, squirrels and even deer.

He added, "If one of those animals is carrying that bacteria, in their urine and urinates in a puddle of water, or even on wet grass that your dog can lick from or drink from, they can ingest the bacteria."

It is also important to note that lepto can be transmitted to humans.

Dr. Stevens explained, "It's a disease that can go from your dog to you. When our staff suspect in the hospital, let's say in the kennel. We have to be very careful and take precautions around the urine or around the saliva of that dog because our staff can get leptospirosis."

"You just got to keep everything clean and make sure that you're watching everybody. If they're eating and licking stuff through puddles, they probably shouldn't be doing that. It's hard not to pull them away immediately, but guess it's the only thing I can say," Keser said.

Unlike the parvo and rabies vaccines, veterinarians encourage dog owners to get the leptospirosis vaccine on a yearly basis.

The earliest a dog can get the vaccine is between eight to nine weeks old.

Veterinarians explained that the vaccines cost anywhere between $25 to $45. Puppies, however, need two in the form of a booster shot.