EUGENE, Ore. -- The rat problem in Eugene continues to cause problems. They're now infecting pets with a disease that could be deadly.
Vets are encouraging a vaccine for the disease, called Leptospirosis. It's not new to the area, but the rat infestation has made it much more prevalent.
It starts with side effects such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea, blood in their urine and lethargy. It can eventually lead to kidney failure and death.
One dog owner, Breyer Barkman, said she often brings her dog to the dog park, which puts her dog more at risk of getting infected. Your vet will likely ask you a few questions to determine if your pet is at risk too. It comes from being exposed to the urine of infected rats, so they'll want to know if you're frequently in areas that could leave you vulnerable.
“Is the dog for hunting? Do they have backyard chickens? Do they like to camp? Do they like to do water sports? Those are the kinds of things that might indicate that they're at a little higher risk than average. So we do recommend it for most of our clients,” said Brian Zulauf, an associate veterinarian with the Santa Clara Animal Hospital.
Your pet can transmit the disease to you. This can happen when you're cleaning up after them, or even when they’re licking you. Barkman said this made getting the vaccine even more important to her because not doing so actually puts other people in danger.
“I work at a child center, so i wouldn't want to bring anything there that could be passed on to more people. There's a lot of people on the planet, so we kind of need to be careful and mindful,” Barkman said.