Some puppies from Puerto Rico brought to N.H. may carry leptospirosis, a bacterial disease

  • A judge has ruled that Luna, the puppy of Angela and Timothy Munson of Charlotte, must stay quarantined due to possible exposure to rabies. (Angela Munson) Angela Munson

Monitor staff
Saturday, November 18, 2017

People at a Hanover pizzeria who played with a group of puppies brought in from Puerto Rico earlier this month may be at risk of getting a bacterial disease known as leptospirosis.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services says five of 10 puppies imported to Vermont and New Hampshire from Puerto Rico on Nov. 9 have become sick and have tested positive for leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that can be transmitted from animals to humans and other pets.

On Nov. 12, a number of these puppies were brought to the outdoor patio at Ramunto’s Brick and Brew Pizzeria in Hanover, where patrons were able to interact with them.

“Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted from animals to people usually through direct contact with an infected animal’s urine, or contact with environments that have been contaminated by animal urine,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan. “Individuals or pets who may have come into contact with these puppies should speak to their health care providers and veterinarians about whether antibiotics may be needed to prevent leptospirosis infection.”

Patrons at Ramunto’s who did not interact with the puppies are not at risk for infection.

The department said all households that received any of the 10 puppies have been contacted.

Leptospirosis occurs worldwide, although it is rare in the United States.

“Infections are known to increase after flooding and natural disasters like hurricanes when humans and animals come into contact with water and soil that has been contaminated with the urine of infected animals. The bacteria enter a person’s body through the skin or mucous membranes, especially if the skin is broken from a cut or scratch,” the department wrote in a press release. “Person-to-person transmission is rare.”

Symptoms of leptospirosis in humans can be very mild to severe. Early symptoms typically include fever, flu-like symptoms and gastrointestinal illness. Some people can develop severe symptoms including liver failure, kidney failure and central nervous system infection (meningitis). Antibiotics treat and prevent infection.

Anyone with questions about leptospirosis can call the New Hampshire Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 271-4496. More information is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov.