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Experts recommend dog owners ensure their pets are vaccinated for canine influenza, Bordetella, and parainfluenza to protect against a severe respiratory disease that has proven fatal in rare cases.
In various states such as New Hampshire and Oregon, there are ongoing efforts by researchers to identify the root cause of a highly infectious respiratory disease in dogs that has resulted in fatalities in a few isolated cases.
Described as an “atypical canine infectious respiratory disease,” symptoms include coughing, sneezing, eye or nose discharge, and lethargy.
Over 200 cases of the disease have been reported in Oregon since mid-August, with additional cases in Colorado, Illinois, and New Hampshire.
The illness is believed to have a viral origin, although common respiratory diagnostic testing has yielded largely negative results, according to Dr. Ryan Scholz, the Oregon State Veterinarian.
The disease shares similarities with upper respiratory diseases in dogs but does not test positive for common respiratory infections. Standard treatments have shown to be ineffective, indicating that the disease is generally resistant.
Dr. David B. Needle, a pathologist at the New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, noted that the syndrome has led to rare and fatal pneumonia in some cases.
Efforts are underway to identify the disease and find common DNA segments by collecting samples and conducting thorough analysis.
Researchers speculate the origin of the disease could stem from a bacterium adapted to dogs. A significant evolutionary event may have triggered the bacterium to become virulent.
Samples are currently being tested from multiple states to understand the geographical spread and various characteristics of the disease.
The Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory has also reported cases of a mysterious canine disease, with similar respiratory symptoms persisting longer than usual.
Although no canine deaths have been reported at the Washington lab, other labs in different states have recorded a few fatalities.
The Oregon Veterinary Medical Association advises dog owners to exercise caution and awareness rather than concern while suggesting the importance of keeping up-to-date with all canine vaccines as a proactive measure.
Periodic outbreaks of Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC) can occur, and contact with multiple unknown dogs should be minimized.
Up-to-date vaccinations along with reduced contact with sick animals and communal water bowls can help reduce the risk of exposure and transmission of these diseases.