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Leptospirosis outbreak comes to Missouri

So far, not affecting Pettis County

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Although Pettis County isn't affected, a few counties in Missouri are experiencing a Leptospirosis outbreak.

Thompson Hills Animal Clinic in Sedalia said in a Facebook post that "Leptospirosis is easily transmitted from pet to pet, can spread quite rapidly through an area, and can be life-threatening to pets." The animal clinic also noted in its post that "Lepto" is zoonotic, meaning it can pass from pets to people.

On Wednesday, Malinda Nevils, the public health manager at the Pettis County Health Center, said the outbreak is in St. Louis County, the city of St. Louis, and Morgan County.

Thompson Hills explained transmission from animals to people is why it's "essential for pet owners to be aware of any outbreaks so they can be sure to vaccinate their pets against this deadly disease."

Lepto is a disease-causing bacterium. One can find it in water contaminated by the urine of infected animals such as deer, rats, raccoons, skunks, opossums, and other wildlife, including livestock. Dogs can become infected by direct or indirect contact with the urine of an infected animal if they wade, drink, or swim in stagnant water or flood water that is contaminated, including water such as ponds, puddles, or muddy dog parks.

Unfortunately, the disease can also infect pets in their yards if infected animals or wildlife have walked through it.

The Missouri Conservation Department states on its website that symptoms range from no signs to "severe disease." Most people don't have symptoms, but if they do, symptoms include high fever, severe headache, chills, muscle aches, vomiting, jaundice, red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rash. If the disease is untreated, symptoms may include kidney damage, liver failure, heart problems, bleeding, neurological problems, and respiratory failure. Unfortunately, MDC added, "fatalities may occur," but one can treat the disease with antibiotics.

"There are no cases that we know of in Pettis County," Nevils noted. "And no human transmission."

She added that PCHC would continue to monitor the disease as reports come in and keep the community and county informed.

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