New Jersey pet owners should be wary of a deadly disease which has become more prominent in the state.

Veterinarians have reported an increase in the number of dogs infected with leptospirosis, a disease passed through rats, this year.

Leptospirosis is spread through rat urine and dogs could be exposed to it after drinking puddle water. Symptoms of the disease are fever, loss of appetite and urination problems in dogs.

Officials believe the increase of exposure occurred because owners spent more time outside with pets due to the mild winter. They also warn to be aware at dog parks.

A Bronx man died from the disease in February and two others became ill.

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