Strange highly contagious respiratory illness hitting dogs in several US states

American dogs are being encouraged to socially distance from other dogs to avoid contracting an unusual respiratory illness that doesn’t respond to antibiotics.

The illness is being investigated by veterinary laboratories in several states, the Associated Press reports. Meanwhile, pet owners should take basic precautions to keep their furbabies healthy.

The illness “has caused lasting respiratory disease and pneumonia and does not respond to antibiotics,” according to AP.

“Symptoms of respiratory illness in dogs include coughing, sneezing, nasal or eye discharge and lethargy,” the outlet states. “Some cases of the pneumonia progress quickly, making dogs very sick within 24 to 36 hours.”

Among the states that have reported the illness are Oregon, Colorado, and New Hampshire, with more than 200 cases being documented by the Oregon Department of Agriculture since mid-August.

The department is urging state veterinarians to report cases as quickly as possible, and pet owners are instructed to call their vet if they notice their dog is sick.

“The agency is working with state researchers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory to find out what is causing the illnesses,” AP reports.

Kurt Williams is the director of the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Oregon State University. While he says that dogs have died, his message to concerned dog owners is: “Don’t panic.”

With no way to clearly define the disease let alone test for it, Williams said it is difficult to know how many pooches have succumbed to a severe form of the infection. Owners should ensure their dogs are up to date on their vaccines, including those that protect against various respiratory illnesses.

Pet owners are also encouraged to “decrease contact with other dogs,” David Needle, senior veterinary pathologist at the University of New Hampshire’s New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, said.

Needle has been studying the disease for nearly a year and said his team hasn’t seen a lot of dogs cross the Rainbow Bridge because of the illness.

Nationwide, labs have been sharing their findings in an attempt to learn what is causing the illness.

Needle’s “lab and colleagues at the university’s Hubbard Center for Genome Research have looked at samples from dogs in Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Massachusetts and more will be coming from Oregon, Colorado and possibly other states,” AP reports.

According to Fox News Digital, cases of the condition “have appeared in Oregon, Indiana, Illinois, Washington, Idaho, California, Nevada and throughout the Northeast.”

The first symptom to watch for is a pervasive cough that can last for several weeks.

Dr. Lindsey Ganzer is a veterinarian and CEO at North Springs Veterinary Referral Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“It seems to happen very, very quickly — to go from this cough that’s just won’t go away … and then all of a sudden they develop this pneumonia,” Ganzer told TODAY.

Since the middle of October, Ganzer’s hospital has seen nearly 30 dogs who were suffering from the illness, and she says the cases are “really not slowing down.” Two to three dogs a day are being seen, and most require hospitalization.

“Your dog will run a fever and they won’t feel good,” Kevin Snekvik, the Executive Director of the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab, told KIRO7. “They’ll become lethargic, meaning they want to lie around more when normally they’d be wanting to play outside… and the coughing part of it, that becomes more productive like a wet cough, like a hacking cough.”

The disease, he warned, is highly contagious.

Should you notice any of the symptoms in your pup, you should get them to the vet, he stressed.

“What we’re seeing is respiratory disease,” he stated, “so again, the coughing, dogs not feeling well, and presenting as kind of a kennel cough.”

Melissa Fine

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