The leptospires which infect dogs and cats can also infect and cause severe, sometimes fatal disease (Weil's disease) in man. The zoonotic potential of the infection must always be kept in mind if leptospirosis is suspected in a dog or cat.

However, dogs (and, presumably, cats) are relatively rare sources of human infection nowadays. The most frequent sources of human infection are rat infested environments - there is a relatively high risk of infection amongst those taking part in water sports - and cattle.

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