Dear Dr. Roach: Our family dog got sick and was diagnosed with leptospirosis. The vet says she will pull through, but do I need to be concerned about my family? — E.V.
Answer: A handful of diseases — called zoonoses — can be transmitted from dogs to humans. Of these, leptospirosis is the only one that can be transmitted by urine. It’s most likely your dog was in contact with an infected rodent in the house or yard, or it could have come from stagnant water where animal urine could be found. Unfortunately, yes, the disease can be passed from your dog to your family, so you need to be vigilant in watching all family members for symptoms. Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that can cause serious illness. The most common initial signs are fever, muscle aches, shaking, chills and headache. Redness in the white part of the eyes, is a typical finding, but there are other less-specific signs, including abdominal pain, cough, joint pain and rash. I do not recommend medication to prevent infection in humans. Any symptoms should be evaluated by your regular doctor. Carefully cleaning all hard surfaces and washing bedding where the dog has been would be wise. Once the dog has come home, wash your hands after handling the dog, and use gloves if you are handling its waste.
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There is a dog vaccine, which unfortunately is not 100% effective. There is no vaccine for humans. I would also consider professional pest control to make sure you don’t have any mice or rats in the home. Leptospirosis can affect many animals. Dogs are common, but in the rare case, cats get it too.
Dear Dr. Roach: I am 72 years old and have developed severe tendonitis in my right shoulder. After having seen a doctor, receiving two shots, undergoing six weeks of therapy and trying my best to curtail use of my right arm, I find there is still significant pain. The doctor says the last remaining option is surgery, which I am not in favor of. I have been in pretty good health. Any suggestions on moving forward? — E.C.
Answer: Tendon problems of the shoulder can cause very significant loss of function, and the best treatment is usually what you have done: physical therapy and sometimes joint injections.
I agree with you that surgery is not a great option. Try asking your therapist if you are continuing to improve, or are not getting any better. If you are still improving, even if slowly, continue the exercise for at least another few weeks. An MRI scan is considered standard before surgery and can help be sure there are no other issues. If the surgeon says you aren’t going to get better without surgery, and you aren’t getting better with more therapy , I recommend getting the surgery done if your regular doctor says surgery is safe for you.
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