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Chicago Vets Seeing More Cases Of Potentially Fatal Dog Disease

 (CBS) – There is an outbreak of a deadly dog disease. Your dog could get it, just by sniffing.

At one veterinary hospital, half the dogs who tested positive have died. CBS 2's Roseanne Tellez tells you what to look out for.

Angelica Papagiannopoulos's dog, Oliver, is lucky to be alive.

"It was a long road for him, but he's back in action now," she says.

That, after nine days of hospitalization for a disease called leptospirosis. It is a bacteria carried by wildlife like rats and passed in urine; so, it ends up in puddles and cracks on the sidewalk.

"If a dog is to lick that up or have some on their paw and lick their paw, they can get the bacteria into their system," MedVet criticalist Dr. Jayme Hoffberg says.

At MedVet Chicago, 15 dogs have been diagnosed since June. That is considered a major spike.

"The thing that's also made this year a bit different is that these have been really sick cases," Hoffberg says.

Only half survived. But this 24-hour emergency clinic does see the most severe cases.

Some dogs show no symptoms. But like Oliver, many will experience vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy – and, when it's really serious, a lack of urination and kidney failure.

It got so bad for Oliver his owners were considering euthanasia.

"Something in us wanted to keep trying, and so we did and every day he got a little better, thanks to the amazing vets," Papagiannopouls says.

She doesn't thinks dogs should become shut-ins, but she is urging awareness and annual vaccinations. There's no guarantee your dog won't get sick, but it could save their life.

"We're so happy just to have him back. We call him our little miracle dog," she says.

This is contagious to humans, who can get many of the same symptoms. Good hygiene is critical.

Whether in humans or animals, the disease is treated with antibiotics. But it can be a long road for pets. And it can cost big bucks.

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