A mysterious respiratory disease is spreading among dogs and baffling veterinarians. Here’s What Homeowners Can Do

By Chris Boyette and Holly Yan | CNN

From New Hampshire to Oregon, researchers are trying to understand the cause of an infectious respiratory disease in dogs that in rare cases has proven fatal.

The mysterious illness is described as an “atypical canine infectious respiratory disease,” the Oregon Department of Agriculture said in a Nov. 9 news release. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, runny eyes or nose, and lethargy.

Oregon veterinarians have reported more than 200 cases of illness since mid-August. Other cases have been reported in Colorado, Illinois and New Hampshire.

“Based on the epidemiology of cases reported to this point, the cases appear to share a viral etiology, but routine respiratory diagnostic tests have been largely negative,” said Oregon State Veterinarian Dr. Dr. Ryan Scholz, at the American Veterinary Medical Association.

In other words, dogs with unidentified illness exhibit similar signs of upper respiratory illness, but generally do not test positive for common respiratory illnesses. And the disease is generally resistant to standard treatments, said Dr. David B. Needle, a pathologist at the New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and clinical associate professor at the University of New Hampshire.

“Deaths do not appear to be a large part of the syndrome we are studying, with rare animals developing acute and sometimes fatal pneumonia after a longer chronic illness,” Needle said. “We think these may be secondary infections.”

Where does the disease come from?

Needle said he is part of a team trying to identify the disease and find common DNA segments by collecting samples from local veterinary clinics and comparing the results.

“If what we identified is a pathogen, it is likely that the bacteria is a host-adapted bacteria with a long history of colonizing dogs,” Needle said. An “evolutionary event” like a spontaneous mutation or obtaining a gene from a different source could then have led the bacteria to become virulent, he said.

He said researchers have received samples from Oregon and expect to receive samples from Colorado, Illinois and other states for testing.

The Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory has also reported cases of a mysterious canine illness, the lab’s director told CNN in an email.

“There has been a slight increase in the number of dogs with respiratory illnesses (cough, lethargy, fever) and the signs have persisted for more than a few days,” said Kevin Snekvik, executive director of the laboratory and professor at State University. Washington. University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Snekvik said his Washington lab has not reported any dog ​​deaths from this mysterious illness, but labs in other states have reported a few deaths.

What can dog owners do?

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