Published 1 Dec 2023
An atypical canine infectious respiratory disease (aCIRD) is causing an outbreak amongst dogs across the United States of America, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
It could be caused by a new type of bacterial infection that may be very good at evading the canine immune system.
Currently, full diagnostics panels for known canine respiratory diseases have not yielded significant positive results in infected dogs, and many US veterinary professionals, researchers and laboratories are baffled.
Video Credit: CBS News: Mysterious dog respiratory illness spreading across US. 23 Nov 2023
The affected dogs reportedly start off with a cough that resembles a kennel cough but last for a long 4- 6 weeks, with teary eyes and sneezing.
This week, the researchers at the University of New Hampshire’s Veterinary Diagnosis Laboratory and the Hubbard Center for Genome Studies reported that they may have identified the pathogen that might be making these dogs sick.
The researchers amassed and compared genetic sequencing of samples from an initial group of 30 infected dogs from New Hampshire last year and another 40 infected dogs from Rhode Island and Massachusetts this year, and concluded that they have discovered the culprit, a previously unknown germ.
Dr. David Needle, pathology section chief at the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture at the University of New Hampshire said: The culprit is “smaller than a normal bacterium in its size and in the size of its genome. Long story short, it is a weird bacterium that can be tough to find and sequence.”
There is no diagnostic tests available to identify the bacterium in-clinic currently.
Symptoms commonly seen in infected dogs include:
a) Persistent coughing, sneezing, loss of bark, lethargy, poor appetite, laboured breathing, fever.
b) Respiratory system inflammation that is only slightly or not responsive to antibiotic treatments in common.
c) Progressing to chronic pneumonia that is only slightly or not responsive to antibiotics.
d) A sudden onset or acute pneumonia that rapidly becomes severe and often leads to severe illness or possibly death in as little as 24 to 36 hours.
So far there is little indication of a zoonotic risk.
There are no signs of this disease in Singapore at the time of publication.
Nevertheless, we recommend that owners:
A) Vaccinate their pet dogs with:
i) Bordetella bronchiseptica
ii) Canine adenovirus, and
iii) Canine, parainfluenza virus
iv) Canine influenza viruses (H3N2 and H3N8)
B) Get a full diagnostic panel from canine respiratory diseases done if there are symptoms, to determine the actual cause of your pet dog’s respiratory condition.
C) To avoid areas that congregate a lot of dogs, e.g. dog parks, dog café, and boarding, especially for puppies, and unvaccinated dogs.
Treatment for the known pathogens that cause canine respiratory diseases usually resolves within 2-3 weeks at most.
Owners should work closely with their veterinarians and update them if their coughing dogs have symptoms that are worsening rapidly or remain unresolved despite medication after 2 weeks.