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6:04 PM Fri, Sept. 21st

Health officials urge caution after rare bacteria infects Cottonwood-area dog

State public health officials say they have found a second case of Leptospirosis, a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals, in a Cottonwood-area dog.

The dog's owner recently took it to a veterinarian after it showed signs of decreased appetite, depression, increased thirst and urination, and dehydration.

Medical tests showed the dog was fighting an infection and its kidneys were failing. Additional lab results showed leptospira, which causes Leptospirosis, likely infected the animal.

Health officials say Leptospirosis generally occurs in temperate or tropical climates, and they rarely see cases of it in Arizona.

"Outbreaks are usually caused by exposure to water contaminated with the urine of infected animals," Yavapai County health officer Robert Resendes said.

Humans and many different kinds of animals can carry the germ, and they may get sick. Leptospirosis symptoms in humans can include high fever, severe headache, chills, muscle aches and vomiting. Other symptoms may include jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or a rash.

If left untreated, health officials say a patient could develop kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure and respiratory distress.

Those who show symptoms such as these should call their physician.

Although rare, humans can get Leptospirosis through contact with contaminated water, food or soil containing urine from infected animals. Contact is most likely to occur in a natural area that wildlife or livestock frequent.

State and local health officials are contacting vets in Yavapai County so they can consider a preventative Leptospirosis vaccination for dogs that may have been wading in potentially contaminated wetlands or water sources in the Verde area.