Peg Prideaux of West Seattle lost her dog Luis (above) this month to what she describes as a rat-borne disease – and says a neighbor’s dog died of the same thing just weeks earlier, so, she says, “I’m on a mission to warn others.”
She says the dogs had never had contact with each other, but both died of what was believed to be leptospirosis. Peg explained in a note to WSB, “Dogs usually contract the disease by coming in contact with rat urine, which can be found in still water such as a backyard rain puddle. In both cases the dogs threw up; then appeared to recover; then later became ill a second time. One of the dogs had killed a rat; the other dog is believed to have come in contact with rat urine in the yard. This disease can fool you. It first appears as a simple, 24-hour ‘doggie flu,’ after which the dog appears to be normal and well while the disease works in the background. Then the dog becomes ill a second time — in my dog’s case, about a week later. At that point he went from seemingly healthy to irrecoverable in just over a day.”
Her dog was euthanized ten days ago. “I’m on a mission to warn others, because when two healthy dogs die within 10 weeks of each other from the same rat-borne illness, it’s a cause for concern in the neighborhood. Also, leptospirosis is said to increase in spring, which is right around the corner.” Just this morning, she says, a dead rat turned up in the same area, near 38th and Graham [map], found by neighbors out walking their dogs.
She suggests pet owners “within a several-block radius of 37th and Juneau [map] to see a
veterinarian immediately if their dogs vomit a meal,” and make sure you point out that two nearby dogs have died of leptospirosis. “Earliest possible detection is essential to saving your pet. Please don’t hesitate about taking your dog in.”
She says leptospirosis can also affect humans and adds that there’s a vaccine against some strains – ask your vet about it. There’s more information about leptospirosis on the Centers for Disease Control website; here’s the page about pets, and here’s the page about humans. There’s even more information on the King County Public Health website, which notes