SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- An outbreak of a potentially serious disease in dogs in eastern Massachusetts has veterarians in western Massachusetts on alert as well.

It's called Leptospirosis, which is a bacteria that is easily spread and doctors are urging you to get your pets vaccinated if possible.

Doctors at Boston Road VCA Animal Hospital in Springfield said it's one of the more serious diseases dogs can get.

It's why they do not take any chances when a dog comes in with symptoms of Leptospirosis.

So far though this year, they're not seeing an unusual amount of cases in western Mass.

"I think we've had at least four or five confirmed cases of Leptospirosis here," said Dr. Nicole Puza, an Internal Medicine Specialist at VCA Animal Hospital.

Dr.Puza is urging dog owners to get their dogs vaccinated against the serious bacteria.

"Leptospirosis is a bacteria that is shed through the urine of rodents. Most dogs contract it by any kind of contact with rodent urine. They can even get this if a rodent comes through the yard, urinates in the yard," Dr. Puza explained.

The Animal Rescue League in Boston said they've seen an uptick in cases in the Boston area.

There have been three positive cases in the last few weeks, including one just last weekend.

"We often times see outbreaks or upsurges in diagnosis after periods of extensive rain. It's not surprising to me we're seeing that there's kind of an up flux," Dr. Puza noted.

She adds that dog owners should have their dogs checked out and vaccinated annually if that's an option with your vet.

"It's one of the vaccines that I always recommend for pets in this area or anywhere in the northeast really, it's very reasonable. It's a very safe vaccine and can be lifesaving," Dr. Puza continued.

Dr. Puza said some things to look out for would include either kidney failure or liver failure or both.

"Usually dogs become very sick very quickly so its expressed as excessive thirst or urination, vomiting, extreme lethargy," she added.

Dr. Puza told Western Mass News that it can be spread to humans.

"It can go from pets to humans so it's also a public health risk, that's a very important point," she said.

Doctors say cats can contract Leptospirosis, but that is extremely rare and they don't see many cases.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. 

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