More than 40 Valley dogs diagnosed with rare leptospirosis bacteria

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Leptospirosis is a highly contagious bacteria that can be transmitted through urine and contaminated water. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Leptospirosis is a highly contagious bacteria that can be transmitted through urine and contaminated water. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
FOUNTAIN HILLS, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

There is a small outbreak of leptospirosis among dogs in the Valley. It's a highly contagious bacteria that can be transmitted through urine and contaminated water.

John Thompson is the president of the Association of Dog Owners Group, or ADOG, in Fountain Hills. They emailed their members letting them know of the outbreak.

"When I heard leptospirosis, I knew how serious it was," Thompson said. "The first thing I wanted to do was call my vet and get a vaccination [for my dog]."

He also took precautionary measures at his dog park.

"We got rid of all the buckets," Thompson said. But that wasn't before several dogs had already tested positive in Fountain Hills.

"One of those cases is a visitor of the dog park, but coincidentally, the other three cases live on the same street," Thompson said.

"The Department of Public Health has recorded 40-plus dogs tested positive since January 2016," said Dr. Sarah Bashaw with El Dorado Animal Hospital in Fountain Hills. "A lot of the cases started in Scottsdale, but they have been reporting cases as far west as Avondale, some cases in Gilbert, and we've had the first cases I know of in Fountain Hills."

Because it's so rare in Arizona, and can be passed onto humans, she said she wants dog owners to know what to look for.

"Some dogs will have mild symptoms and never show any clinical signs, others can be more severe, start out with vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, tremors, shaking, lethargy, fever," Bashaw said.

A simple set of vaccination shots can prevent it, and antibiotics can treat it.

Thompson said since Billy got her shot, he's totally comfortable bringing her to the dog park.

"Hopefully, we’re going to have our arms around it and people will get their dogs vaccinated, and we can stop any more potential for an outbreak," Thompson said.

Representatives from the Center for Disease Control are in town studying this, and working with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

The Department said this bacteria is so rare in Arizona that many veterinarians don't carry the vaccine, but it is easily obtainable. They said if you are worried that your pet came into contact with an infected dog, call your veterinarian.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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Lindsey ReiserLindsey Reiser is a Scottsdale native and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

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Lindsey Reiser

Lindsey returned to the Valley in 2010 after covering border and immigration issues in El Paso, TX. While in El Paso she investigated public corruption, uncovered poor business practices, and routinely reported on the violence across the border.

Lindsey feels honored to have several awards under her belt, including a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award, Hearst Journalist Award, and several National Broadcast Education Association Awards.

Lindsey is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and she currently serves as a mentor to journalism students. She studied for a semester in Alicante, Spain and also earned a degree in Spanish at ASU.

She is proud to serve as a member of United Blood Services’ Community Leadership Council, a volunteer advisory board for the UBS of Arizona.

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