The disease, which in some cases has been fatal, began appearing in dogs in Oregon, in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Veterinarians don’t know what’s causing it, and in many cases the animal’s symptoms, which can include pneumonia, don’t respond to treatment.
Tuesday 21 November 2023 09:56, United Kingdom
A mysterious disease is spreading among dogs in some parts of the US, baffling veterinarians who can’t figure out what’s causing it.
Cases of the potentially fatal disease began appearing in Oregon in the Pacific Northwest in August.
The state has now recorded more than 200 cases, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA).
Other cases have been reported in the states of Colorado, Illinois and New Hampshire, on the east coast.
The cases appear to share a viral cause, but tests for common respiratory illnesses have so far failed to produce results.
Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, runny nose and eyes, and lethargy.
Dog owners in the US are advised to take their dog to the vet if they develop any symptoms.
The illness often presents as a cough that can last eight weeks or more and may not respond to typical treatments.
Dogs can also develop pneumonia, which again may not respond to treatment.
In some cases, pneumonia “rapidly becomes severe,” the ODA said, and “often leads to poor outcomes in as little as 24 to 36 hours.”
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Most dogs that get sick have been mixed with other dogs through boarding or training schools.
The ODA recommended “caution rather than concern” among dog owners in the United States.
He said dog owners can protect their animals by keeping them away from large numbers of unfamiliar dogs, avoiding communal watering bowls, making sure vaccinations are up to date and reducing contact with any dogs that appear sick.
Veterinarians and specialists at Oregon State University and the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (OVDL) are working with the Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory (USDA NVSL) to try to determine the cause of the disease.
They are sequencing viral samples from sick dogs.
The ODA is also working with a rescue shelter that had several cases of the disease to collect samples. This will hopefully narrow the pool of potential causes of the disease, the American Veterinary Medical Association said.