City taking precautions after leptosporosis case

Special to the Inquirer

GALION — Residents should be aware of leptosporosis, a disease to which companion animals are most vulnerable. A dog on South Union Street recently died of the disease, likely caused by interaction with infected racoons or urine at vacant properties on that street.

Galion Inquirer reporter Kim Gasuras talked to Roger Petrella, who was the owner of the TJ, the dog that died last week of leptosporosis. You can read that story here.

The city is taking steps to reduce risk of infection in that area and citywide. Those measures include boarding up vacant homes, condemning properties and trapping animals.

Leptospirosis is common, but rarely seen in companion animals in this area. It can be spread from animals to people, and as a precaution, dogs and children should be kept away from all vacant home in order to avoid exposure.

To minimize pests like racoons near your home, the Crawford County Humane Society recommends removing any food sources, such as securing trash cans and not leaving food out for stray animals. They also suggest eliminating any potential shelter for wildlife.

Dr. John Shuler of Horizon Animal Hospital noted he has seen less than 10 cases of Leptospirosis in his 33 years as a veterinarian. However, it is common in wildlife and can infect farm animals.

What to look for

Dogs and cats can also contract the disease through exposure to urine, a bite from an infected animal, or by eating infected tissues or carcasses. The signs of Leptospirosis vary; some infected animals do not show any signs of illness, some have a mild and transient illness and recover spontaneously, while others develop severe illness and death.

Leptospirosis may be suspected based on the exposure history and signs eshibited by the dog, but many of these signs can also be seen with other diseases. In addition to a physical examination, your veterinarian may recommend a number of other tests such as blood tests, urine tests, radiographs (x-rays) and an ultrasound examination.

Infection in people can cause flu-like symptoms and can cause liver or kidney disease. Other signs of leptospirosis may include: fever, shivering, muscle tenderness, reluctance to move, increased thirst, changes in the frequency or amount of urination, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes), or painful inflammation within the eyes.

If you think you or your pet have been exposed to Leptospirosis, contact your medical provider immediately. Early and aggressive treatment result in the best chance of full recovery.

Special to the Inquirer