“It’s out there.” Recent research reported by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) states that at least 8% of the dog population has contracted Leptospirosis. They report that it can only take a few minutes outdoors to contract this disease and that it is also transmitted by squirrels. This recent report (September 18, 2013) also stated that Leptospirosis is on the increase in the Northeast. Leptospirosis (Lepto) is a contagious disease affecting both animals and humans. This terrible disease is caused by several bacterial pathogens called Leptospira which can cause serious liver and kidney disease. Leptospira thrive in wet soil conditions and moderate temperatures support their surviving in the environment. The organism can be found on the grass, an d even on wet sidewalks. Infection is spread in humans and animals by contact with infected areas from the urine of squirrels, raccoons, fox, horses, rats, mice, opossum, skunk, dogs, and other animals that urine outside. The bacteria can enter the body by licking contaminated areas on the paws or body, or by drinking contaminated water, or through open wounds. Stagnant water such as small ponds and lingering puddles should be avoided. Initial symptoms include fever, decreased appetite, vomiting and sometimes diarrhea. If a diagnosis is not made early and treatment initiated the disease can progress to kidney and liver failure and be fatal. Since Leptospirosis poses a risk of spread to other animals and humans, any suspected contaminated area should be avoided and the area should be thoroughly drained, washed and disinfected with an iodine-based solution. It is almost impossible to keep dogs off grass or other potentially infected areas so vaccination is the wisest cho ice. The vaccine is safe and effective. If you know there are squirrels, raccoons, and or rats, etc. on your property and your dog goes outside where they might have been, your dog is at risk and should be vaccinated. Contact your veterinarian for current vaccination protocol.