Via About.com Veterinary Medicine: Deadly Leptospirosis Outbreak in Michigan. Excerpt:
Veterinarians at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine have diagnosed more than 20 cases of leptospirosis, a potentially fatal bacterial infection. This bacterial disease affects many wild and domestic animals, notably dogs, which may pass this disease to other dogs or humans. (Leptospirosis a zoonotic disease.)
There are several strains of leptospira bacteria, differing slightly in the severity of disease and species of animals that are most susceptible. The strain involved in this outbreak has been identified as icterohaemorrhagiae, which may cause severe disease in humans and animals. The kidney is the primary target organ, and the disease is most commonly passed via the urine of infected animals or stagnant water that contains infected urine.
From Carole Bolin, director of the MSU Veterinary Diagnostic Center, "This is a very serious, rapidly progressing type of leptospirosis in dogs. Dogs can appear normal one day and be severely ill the next day. People can become infected, so this also is a threat to animal owners, caretakers and veterinarians."
In the Michigan outbreak, veterinarians want to get the word out that this disease is occurring in pet dogs, rather than stray dogs or wild animals (primarily rats), which is more typical. As rat populations were controlled and dogs were vaccinated for this disease, the incidence decreased over time.
The increase in cases in this outbreak is attributed to a reduction in canine vaccinations for leptospirosis over the years.
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