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Animal House: Leptospirosis Can Infect You And Your Pet

Flickr via Creative Commons
If you're not careful, you could be sharing more with your dog than just a hug.

If your pet ventures outside, even for a short time each day, then your furry friend is at risk for a zoonotic disease that has the potential to kill you both.

  • Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease that Dr. Matt Fraker from the Prairie Oak Veternary Center says has spent too much time under the radar.
  • A zooonotic disease is one your animal can pass on to you, and with Leptospirosis, the results can be deadly.
  • Lepto is a bacterial disease spread through the urine of infected animals. Many smaller mammals, like mice or voles, can bring this disease right to your back door. 
  • Pet owners can become infected through direct contact with urine from animals with leptospirosis, or through water, soil, or food contaminated with their urine.
  • Some of the symptoms include fever, headache, bleeding, muscle pain, chills, red eyes, and vomiting.  The symptoms for humans are basically the same for your pet, although your dog won't tell you of muscle aches. Look for a stiff gait and over-all malaise. 
  • There is a vaccination for leptospirosis.  If you're pet becomes infected, there's also a course of treatment that, if caught in time, can be successful. However, death in untreated animals may occur.  And, yes, the same for humans, too.
  • Be careful when handling materials that may be stained by urine to protect yourself against this disease. While humans can be successfully treated, there is no vaccine for humans.

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Reporter, content producer and former All Things Considered host, Laura Kennedy is a native of the Midwest who occasionally affects an English accent just for the heck of it. Related to two U.S. presidents, Kennedy appalled her family by going into show business.