Dog owners are being warned about a deadly disease that can kill pets and cause sickness in humans.

A rare disease transmitted by rats is on the rise in Massachusetts pets.

Leptospirosis, or Lepto, is a bacteria that causes a deadly infection in dogs and according to NBC Boston cases of it are on the rise. There were 15 cases in 2016, up from just 6 cases two years previous.

The bacteria is transmitted by mice, rats and raccoons through their urine and is kept alive in wet environments like soil or standing water.

The infectious bacteria can then get into a person's pet through small cuts on their paws.

Unfortunately symptoms for Lepto are not very specific...they include diarrhea, vomiting, fever and lack of appetite. But if the infection is not caught early, pets can develop kidney or liver failure and can die.

Antibiotics are effective in treating the disease and dogs can be vaccinated for Lepto once a year.

Pet owners should make sure their dog's shots are up to date if they are going to be out and about in the woods.

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