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  • County medical staff provide information on Lepto

    Jun 05, 2017 | Read More News
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    Pima County Health Department and Pima Animal Care Center officials are aware of one additional case of canine Leptospirosis confirmed this week by a private veterinarian, Veterinary Specialty Center of Tucson. The case involves an owned dog that frequented Udall Park, 7200 E. Tanque Verde. PACC Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Jennifer Wilcox, recommends that dog owners avoid this area for the time being, and consult their veterinarian if their dog recently visited this area.
    Pima County staff are actively coordinating with the City of Tucson, Arizona Department of Health Services, the Arizona Department of Agriculture, and the Arizona State Veterinarian.

    Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can affect people and animals. It’s most often spread through the urine of infected wildlife and livestock, primarily through contaminated water sources. At this time, PACC and PCHD officials are aware of seven total confirmed cases within the community involving privately owned canines. There have been no reported human cases in Pima County.
    Dr. WilcoxDr. Wilcox’s clinical team is closely monitoring the PACC pet population. She recommends veterinary clinicians practicing in the Pima County area consider Leptospirosis in their differential diagnoses during the evaluation of ill animals. Also, Wilcox recommends pet owners who take their dogs to boarding facilities and dog parks, or who allow their pets to roam outdoors with exposure to livestock, wildlife, or potentially contaminated water, contact their veterinarian to discuss the risk of Leptospirosis. Your veterinarian may recommend vaccines for Leptospirosis depending on the degree of risk they may have.
    Pima County, PACC, and the Arizona State Veterinarian encourage pet owners to watch for common signs of Leptospirosis in their dogs, including: drinking more than usual, urinating more than usual, lack of urination, redness in the eyes, depression, reluctance to eat, or fever over 103.5° F. If your pet has any of these signs, or you are concerned about Leptospirosis in your pet family member, please seek advice from your pet’s veterinarian.
    According to Dr. Carlos Perez-Velez, Pima County Health Department’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, the main way humans get Leptospirosis is from exposure to water or soil that is contaminated with urine from infected animals. Typically this is in outdoor recreational settings. When infected, some people may not develop any symptoms, or only mild symptoms. If symptoms do develop, they usually start suddenly. The main symptoms include fever, shaking chills, muscle aches, and headaches. Some people get very sick and may develop serious problems in the lungs, liver, and muscles. Most people who get Leptospirosis get better on their own. Those who get sick enough to have to seek medical care may need an antibiotic medication.
    Pima County officials checked records as far back as 2000, and found no human cases in Pima County. Similarly, PACC records dating back to the same timeframe show no laboratory confirmed occurrences of Leptospirosis in the shelter.  
    While human Leptospirosis infection is rare, there are some precautions that pet owners, veterinarians, and their staff should consider. They include avoiding areas where pets urinate frequently, washing their hands after taking pets for walks, and washing clothes that may have come into contact with pet urine. Symptoms of Leptospirosis in people vary, and if pet owners are concerned about their risk of infection, they are encouraged to talk to their primary care physician.