Spring season ups risk for dog disease

Two fatal cases recorded in Santa Barbara

Beth Farnsworth, KEYT - KCOY - KKFX Anchor/Reporter, beth.farnsworth@keyt.com
POSTED: 01:42 PM PDT Mar 11, 2013    UPDATED: 08:27 PM PST Mar 08, 2013 
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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

Local veterinarians are on the lookout for signs of a deadly dog disease that spikes in the spring and fall seasons.

White's Pet Hospital has documented two fatal cases of leptospirosis in Santa Barbara.

The spiral-shaped microorganism is found in the urine of infected wildlife, including rats, skunks, raccoons and opossum.

Contaminated urine filters into creeks, streams and stagnant ponds of water -- all of which are huge attractions for hot and thirsty dogs along hiking trails in local mountains.

"The good thing is, it's very curable," Dr. Julio Lopez told NewsChannel 3. The veterinarian said on average, he sees ten cases of leptospirosis each year. The scary thing is, the bacteria is transferable from animals to humans.

And, the disease can be found in your own back yard, especially if wildlife can get in and there is standing water.

Lopez, a vet with Care Hospital, said symptoms develop within four to 12 days of exposure.

Symptoms include fever, muscle pain, stiffness, weakness, conjunctivitis and vomiting.

Leptospirosis is easily treated with antibiotics; if left untreated, it can quickly lead to renal failure.