MedVet Emergency Medicine Veterinarians Alert Dog Owners to an Outbreak of Leptospirosis in the Chicagoland Area

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The emergency and critical care veterinarians at MedVet Medical & Cancer Centers for Pets warn pet owners about an outbreak of leptospirosis in dogs in the Chicagoland area which is contagious to humans. MedVet recommends seeking treatment and provides a list of symptoms.

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“Most of the dogs who are infected with leptospirosis are presenting with gastrointestinal issues, like vomiting or diarrhea” says Jayme Hoffberg, DVM, Diplomate ACVECC, head of Emergency and Critical Care at MedVet Chicago.

MedVet Chicago is reporting an outbreak of leptospirosis in canines in the Chicagoland area. This disease is zoonotic (contagious to humans), and if left untreated, can be fatal. Since the beginning of June, the number of leptospirosis cases presenting to MedVet Chicago has been steadily rising.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that is primarily transmitted by wildlife such as rats and rodents, and Chicago’s rodent population may be contributing to the spread of this disease. Leptospirosis is primarily transmitted through urine, and can cause a variety of symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, fever, lethargy, dehydration, and decreased urination. Some dogs display mild or no signs of the disease, while others develop severe illness. Patients with leptospirosis require aggressive medical treatment, which includes hospitalization, IV fluid therapy, and antibiotic treatment. If left untreated, this disease can cause kidney failure, liver failure, and in extreme cases, can be fatal.

“Most of the dogs who are infected with leptospirosis are presenting with gastrointestinal issues, like vomiting or diarrhea” says Jayme Hoffberg, DVM, Diplomate ACVECC, head of Emergency and Critical Care at MedVet Chicago. Many of these patients are also lethargic and dehydrated. Of the patients presented for suspected leptospirosis, bloodwork has shown kidney damage in 90%, with approximately 50% with liver damage as well. By the time their kidneys are affected, many dogs have decreased or absent urine production and are severely ill.

Dog owners are advised to seek veterinary attention if they notice any of the following signs:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Shivering or muscle tenderness
  • Increased thirst
  • Decreased urination

There is a vaccination for available for Leptospirosis. “I would recommend vaccinating,” says Dr. Hoffberg. “As with any vaccine, it is not 100% effective, but because of the drastic increase [in leptospirosis cases], at this point we believe the potential benefits outweigh the risk.” The vaccination can be obtained at any primary care veterinarian.

Leptospirosis is extremely rare in cats, and does not appear to be affecting the feline population at this time. However, leptospirosis is contagious to humans, causing similar symptoms and with a potential for fatality. Canine patients who are being treated with the proper antibiotics have a lower incidence of spreading the disease, although it is still possible. Any person who may have been in contact with a dog who is suspected of having leptospirosis should seek medical attention from a physician.

About MedVet Chicago
MedVet Chicago (formerly Chicago Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center) is a 24-hour emergency, critical care, and specialty animal hospital which is part of the MedVet Medical & Cancer Centers for Pets patient care family. MedVet is employee owned, veterinary led, and is leading specialty healthcare for pets. MedVet provides specialty referral services for in-depth care and patient management, as well as emergency services, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. More than 100,000 dogs and cats are treated annually at MedVet’s expanding network of medical centers across the country.
For more information on MedVet’s network of medical centers, visit http://www.medvetforpets.com.

Contact: Eva Kaltenbach
MedVet Medical & Cancer Centers for Pets
(773) 281-7110 x1101
eva.kaltenbach(at)medvetforpets.com

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Tami Adcock
MedVet Columbus
+1 (614) 431-4400
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Eva Kaltenbach
MedVet Chicago
(773) 281-7110 1101
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