Researchers reveal that a mysterious respiratory illness affecting numerous dogs nationwide may be due to a novel bacterial infection. Some dogs who suffer from this cough that persists for weeks, runny eyes, and sneezing have already died from the illness.
The University of New Hampshire’s Veterinary Diagnosis Laboratory and the Hubbard Center for Genome Studies have identified a pathogen that may be the culprit behind the disease, which has impacted various breeds of dogs. Through genetic sequencing, they have uncovered an unfamiliar bacterium that may be adept at evading the immune system of canines.
Dr. David Needle, from the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture at the University of New Hampshire, described the pathogen as a “funky bacterium” that is smaller than normal and tricky to find and sequence.
After extensive research, researchers have found that the bacterium is new as a potential cause of disease, likely to have evolved from harmless bacteria in the dog’s microbiome. States including Oregon, Colorado, California, Indiana, Illinois, Washington, Idaho, Georgia, and Florida have reported cases of the respiratory infection in dogs.
The exact cause remains undetermined, and researchers are uncertain whether the same bug is making dogs sick across the country. While the pathogen remains a mystery, researchers aim to provide veterinarians with information to address respiratory syndrome outbreaks.
Specialists suggest keeping dogs out of kennels and crowded places to minimize the risk of infection. They also advise dog owners to consult with their vet, make sure their dog has all available vaccines, and consider having Thanksgiving at home to prevent the spread of the illness
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com