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Fatal bacterial disease claiming pet dogs in metro Detroit

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Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease spread by rats that can be fatal to dogs. A strain of the disease that hasn't been since since the 1960s is resurging among pet dogs in metro Detroit.

A disease that can quickly kill dogs has resurfaced in metro Detroit after almost 40 years.

It’s called leptospirosis.

The bacterial disease is spread by rats, and from dog to dog. It can also infect humans.

Dr. Carole Bolin is a professor at Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

She said the onset of symptoms in dogs can be very sudden.

“The inside of their mouth may be yellow-tinged, and they may be severely vomiting, and obviously very, very ill," Bolin said. "And those animals, when taken to the veterinarian, have very severe abnormalities which are consistent with liver and kidney failure.”

Bolin said more than 20 cases of leptospirosis have been reported in Detroit-area dogs in the past three weeks. Most were pets and most had to be euthanized.

A vaccine is available to prevent the disease.