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Mystery Canine Respiratory Illness Spreading Across USA

Veterinarians across the country are investigating a mystery respiratory illness which has been affecting dogs since August 2020.

Reported cases have risen to over 200 in Oregon and have doubled in the past month alone. Symptoms include severe coughing fits which can last for weeks, or even months, with some cases resulting in death or euthanasia of the animals affected.

Dr. Amanda Cavanagh – head of urgent care services at Colorado State University James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, in Fort Collins, Colorado – has stated that there are precautions pet owners can take to reduce their dog’s risk of contracting this potentially deadly disease.

“It seems to happen very, very quickly – to go from this cough that just won’t go away … and then all of a sudden they develop this pneumonia,” said Lindsey Ganzer – veterinarian and CEO at North Springs Veterinary Referral Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Kevin Snekvik – Executive Director of the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab – told KIRO-TV, “Symptoms of this puzzling sickness include sneezing, eye or nose discharge, fatigue, blue or purple gums from oxygen deprivation, trouble breathing, and negative tests for other common respiratory illnesses.

It appears to develop very quickly in three ways: a mild to moderate cough for six to eight weeks that does not respond to antibiotics or only responds slightly; chronic pneumonia that does not respond to antibiotics; or severe pneumonia that often leads to poor outcomes in as little as 24 to 36 hours.”

According to Ganzer and the Oregon Department of Health, there have been cases matching symptoms of the mystery respiratory illness reported in the following states:

  • Oregon
  • Colorado
  • New Hampshire and the surrounding Northeast area
  • California
  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Washington
  • Idaho
  • Georgia
  • Florida

“We’re still trying to pin down a potential cause or causes for the entity. At least in Oregon, it’s given us some challenges,” explained Kurt Williams – director of the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Oregon State University. He added that there are a variety of reasons why dogs develop a cough.

Williams recommended that dog owners ensure their pets are current on their vaccinations, which may include canine influenza, Bordetella, and parainfluenza.

The American Veterinary Medical Association is closely monitoring the situation surrounding the mysterious illness; however, it is uncertain how many animals have been infected or died from its potentially fatal effects.

Although veterinarians have yet to deduce how this pathogen spreads, they suggest avoiding close contact between dogs at groomers, daycare facilities, boarding kennels and parks.

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Joe Messina

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