San Francisco dog dies from bacteria, others at risk

Lilian Kim Image
ByLilian Kim KGO logo
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
San Francisco dog dies from rain bacteria, others at risk
A growing number of dogs in San Francisco are getting sick from an uncommonly spread bacteria related to the record-setting rains. A 13-year-old dog died and more are at risk.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- An alarming number of San Francisco dogs are getting sick from a bacteria not typically spread in the city, but the record rain has changed everything.

Gertie, a 13-year-old cattle dog died of the bacterial disease Leptospirosis.

"It came on pretty hard and pretty fast which is the scary part of leptospirosis," said owner Jeannine Giordan. "Before you even know you have it's too late to do anything about it."

Veterinarians in the city are treating more dogs infected with the bacteria than ever before.

At VCA San Francisco Veterinary Specialists, there have been five documented cases of Leptospirosis in just two months compared to one or two in a typical year. Symptoms include lethargy, decreased appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. The disease is typically spread through the urine of infected wild animals.

All the rain in recent months is likely the reason for the uptick in Leptospirosis cases. The bacteria can live in standing water for days if not months.

Dog owners in San Francisco are now being advised to consider the Leptospirosis vaccine, but there is a catch.

"There are multiple strains of Leptospirosis so this vaccine does not cover all of them," said Elyse Hammer DVM. of the VCA San Francisco Veterinary Specialists. "But it is our best preventative measure."

Gertie's owner wishes she had known about the vaccine. She's now trying to educate others.

"If I can save one pup from going through this horrible fate, and one owner from the heartbreak I went through, then I did my job," Said Giordan.

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