Published: 13:29, 19 October 2019
| Updated: 13:51, 19 October 2019
A vet centre has warned of a possible instance of a potentially fatal disease spread by rats.
Barrow Hill Veterinary Hospital says there is an unconfirmed case of Leptospirosis in the Ashford area.
The warning was put out on the Facebook page of the Maidstone Road centre in Ashford yesterday evening.
It stressed: "Please be extra vigilant with where you take your pets, and if you have any concerns, do not hesitate to contact your vet."
The centre explains that Leptospirosis, also called Weil's disease, is highly contagious and can be passed to people and be fatal.
It is picked up through contact with stagnant water and rat urine.
Symptoms can include fever, haemorrhagic gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhoea which can include blood), jaundice (orange-yellow discolouration of skin, mucous membranes including eyes and gums) and lethargy.
It is rare in the UK but it can cause acute kidney failure and liver impairment and can frequently kill an animal.
The NHS website further explains that it can also be caught fromthe urine of infected mice, cows, pigs and dogs.
It can be caught if soil or freshwater, from a river, canal or lake, with infected urine, gets in your mouth, eyes or in a cut.
This can usually happen during activities such as kayaking, outdoor swimming or fishing.
It can also be caught by touching an infected animal's flesh or blood.
But it is very rare to get the disease from pets, other people or bites.
The NHS tells people to ask for an urgent doctor's appointment if you have jaundice, swollen ankles, feet or hands, chest pain, shortness of breath or are coughing blood.
For full advice, visit the NHS web page on leptospirosis.
More by this authorSam Lennon