GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – The Kent County Animal Shelter is closed while crews work to disinfect it after a dog test positive for a rare illness.
The decision comes after a dog housed at the shelter tested positive for Leptospirosis. The dog was infected prior to arriving at the shelter, according to a Kent County Health Department.
Crews have been cleaning every inch of the shelter since a dog was diagnosed with the disease last Friday.
“We really didn’t suspect that would be what we were dealing with, but I’m glad we treated it as such from the beginning,” said Carly Luttman, Animal Shelter Program Supervisor.
The Leptospirosis bacteria is transferred by the urine of an infected dog to others. It can be treated with antibiotics and controlled by thorough sanitation and limiting exposure to other animals.
When the shelter got the diagnosis, they began treating the infected dog, as well as others strays and adoptable dogs, about 35 in all, who were exposed inside the shelter.
“We’re watching for any symptoms and so far, none of the other dogs are symptomatic in any way,” said Veterinarian Dr. Kristen Davison.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease which very rarely is transmitted to humans. The symptoms in dogs vary. Some show no signs of illness, and other cases can be deadly.
The concern is not just exposure to other dogs. In rare cases, humans can become infected.
“Not to make everybody a germaphobe, but if this dog is having large amounts of urine, and say he steps in it or it gets splashed up on its fur, and someone like a volunteer pets him, and then they go and touch a common item like a door handle, you’ve got to think about that kind of stuff,” said Luttmann.
The shelter is warning anyone who may have visited the shelter in the days before the infection was discovered.
Both the human and K-9 signs of Leptospirosis include excessive thirst, excessive urination and lethargy.
“If you come to visit I don’t want people to be worried, but if they experience symptoms consistent with Lepto, they probably should talk to their physician,” Luttmann said.
The shelter plans to reopen by the end of the week.
If you have questions regarding pending adoptions, stray animals, animal surrender or other services, call 616.632.7300.