SALEM, Ore. — State officials are warning Oregonians to keep their dogs away from sea lions.

A bacterial outbreak that began last month has been causing sick or dead sea lions to strand themselves on beaches in Lincoln, Tillamook and Clatsop counties.

The disease can spread through contact with urine or other bodily fluids of an infected animal. Dogs are more likely to come into contact with distressed sea lions, so they face a higher risk of infection than people.

State public health veterinarian Emilio DeBess says dog owners should keep their pets on a leash while at the beach.

The outbreak of leptospirosis is expected to last at least another month. At least eight cases have been confirmed in dead sea lions in Oregon.

The most recent such outbreak in the state was in 2010.