Leptospirosis outbreak sickens dozens of dogs in the Valley

- An illness that has sickened dozens of dogs is spreading in the Valley, and veterinarians say this disease could be transmitted to humans.

The illness is called Leptospirosis, and it is more common in the northern part of the country. The increase locally is a big increase over what experts would normally see.

"Recently, we've started to see an increase of cases here in Arizona, and it does seem to be occurring in dogs that have never left the state, which has caused some of the concerns that we've had recently," said Dr. Lisa Darling, who is a veterinarian.

The concern is that Leptospirosis, or "Lepto", spreads quickly.

"It's generally spread through the dog's urine. You're going to have a higher risk of your dog contracting where there are groups of dogs," said Dr. Darling. She said dogs generally get the bacteria from rodents and livestock. Rats, she said, are known to carry the disease.

The disease is also not always easy to detect.

"Usually very nondescript symptoms," said Dr. Darling. "They may be lethargic, you may see some vomiting and diarrhea involved."

If concerned, Dr. Darling recommends getting a dog vaccinated. While death is a possibility if a dog affected is not treated for it, Lepto is treatable if caught early.

According to Laura Oxley with the Arizona Department of Agriculture, there are 40 cases reported, but no deaths in 2017 so far.

The Arizona Animal Welfare League has about 50 doses of the vaccine and is hosting a vaccine clinic on February 18 near 40th Street and Washington.

The vaccine will be distributed on a first come, first serve basis.

Story corrected with figures from the Arizona Department of Agriculture.

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