Two canine illnesses on rise in L.A. County

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Los Angeles County Department of Veterinary Public Health officials are urging pet owners to vaccinate their dogs after reports that leptospirosis and canine influenza are spreading across the county.

Leptospirosis is a rare, bacterial disease that is often spread through dog-to-dog contact, with symptoms ranging from none at all to liver and kidney damage and even death if not treated early, according to Public Health.

As of last week, Public Health had received 119 reports regarding dogs contracting leptospirosis this year, whereas in comparison, from 2008 to 2020, only 88 cases of leptospirosis in dogs were reported in L.A. County.

A majority of these dogs were suspected to have been exposed at dog day care or boarding facilities, as well as at parks, beaches or on walks in their neighborhoods.

While animals can infect other animals and humans, Public Health officials have said they’ve had no human cases thus far.

Pets that appear healthy may still be passing the infection, so Public Health recommends all social dogs, meaning those that interact with dogs outside their household, be immunized against leptospirosis.

Common symptoms of leptospirosis include lethargy, loss of appetite, reluctance to move, increased thirst, increased urination, vomiting, or evidence of kidney or liver damage on bloodwork.

Additionally, the county has reported seeing an increase in canine influenza (CIV) H3N2, a very contagious virus that spreads easily between dogs through the air.

Sick pets should isolate at home until completing appropriate antibiotic treatments and are no longer contagious.

Individuals can report suspected canine influenza or leptospirosis outbreaks at [email protected]. For more information, visit publichealth.lacounty.gov/vet/Leptospirosis.htm 

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