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Leptospirosis appears on rise in NYC

Veterinarians and dog owners in New York are on alert for leptospirosis after reports this week that two Brooklyn dogs died of the disease and dozens more have been hospitalized.

The infectious illness rarely strikes the city in high numbers, but vets say it seems to be hitting a little earlier and harder this year, the New York Daily News reported.

“Lepto likes warm, wet weather and we’ve got that to a T,”  said Dr. Cathy Langston, a renal specialist with the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan, which is treating three dogs for the disease.

The swift-moving illness is spread by a bacteria in the urine of rats, skunks, raccoons and other infected animals, which dogs can come in contact with through contaminated water or moist soil. The disease can damage the kidney and liver and prove fatal if untreated.

The first signs in dogs are weight loss, vomiting, lethargy, depression, muscle pain and sometimes diarrhea or bloody urine.

The Daily News article says Amy Tiscornia, a waitress, returned home from work to  her 4-year-old pit bull Bird unable to move. The white dog’s skin and belly were glowing yellow from jaundice and his eyes, she said, “were the color of Mountain Dew.”

 The dog fully recovered after three days of treatment in a Long Island animal hospital.

And after a week of round-the-clock IV and treatment at a Long Island animal hospital — amounting to a $7,000 bill — Traci Schiffer’s Boston terrier Fenway also recovered.

Both women live in the East Village and frequently take their dogs to East River Park, where the canines play in the soggy fields and puddles of still water left by the intense rains, the story noted.

A Health Department spokeswoman said it is not considered an outbreak. In 2007, 17 cases were reported in the five boroughs.


Comment from Anne’n’Spencer
Time July 6, 2009 at 8:52 am

I wish I understood why people aren’t having their dogs immunized for this at the annual checkup. There’s an affordable, readily available, easy to get annual shot. In fact it’s given in a combo that immunizes the dog against four serious diseases–distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, and parvovirus. Maybe there’s some consequence or side effect, but no vet has ever told me about one, and no dog I’ve ever had has ever had a problem with the shot. Why not protect dogs from this disease?

Comment from very sick me
Time July 6, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Sad to hear about the decline in pet health. And I agree with the other commenter, vaccination isn’t expansive and can be so beneficial. Maybe there should be shots for people who can’t be responsible. 😉

Comment from do the research
Time August 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm

I’ll respond to both commentors. The side effects of the lepto shot are through the roof. In some cases, the side effects are actually deadlier than the disease. The smaller dogs are the ones who usually get the worst of the side effects. My dog had to be rushed to the hospital within 2 hours of the shot because of seizures. So THATS why not everyone immunizes against lepto. Do the research.