2 Puppies Euthanized due to Deadly Disease; Pets, People May Be at Risk
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HANOVER — At least one of 10 puppies brought to New Hampshire and Vermont from Puerto Rico is confirmed to be infected with a rare, bacterial disease, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services said.
The dogs were brought to the U.S. on Nov. 9 by an animal rescue group in Vermont known as Surfin' Sato. Three days later, on Nov. 12, the dogs were brought to the outdoor patio at Ramunto's Brick and Brew Pizzeria in Hanover where several customers at the restaurant interacted with them.
Five of the puppies became sick, two were euthanized and at least one has already tested positive for leptospirosis. The rest of the puppies have been provided antibiotic prophylaxis or treatment for bacterial disease.
According to DHHS, although the risk is low, leptospirosis can be transferred from dog to human. Symptoms in humans can range from fever, flu-like illness and gastrointestinal features in the early phase. In rare cases, the disease can progress causing severe symptoms including liver failure, kidney failure, and central nervous system infection (meningitis).
"Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted from animals to people usually through direct contact with an infected animal’s urine, or contact with environments that have been contaminated by animal urine,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan. “Individuals or pets who may have come into contact with these puppies should speak to their health care providers and veterinarians about whether antibiotics may be needed to prevent leptospirosis infection.”
All of the puppies' foster and adoptive homes have been contacted, but anyone who may have touched or played with the dogs at Ramunto's is asked to contact their health care provider.
DHHS said cases of leptospirosis can occur worldwide, but it is rare in the U.S. It is more common in areas affected by flooding and natural disasters, like hurricanes. Bacteria lives in the urine of the infected animal and can be transferred to human through the skin or mucous membranes, especially if the skin is broken from a cut or scratch.
Anyone with questions about leptospirosis can call the New Hampshire Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 603-271-4496. More information is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov.