The unknown respiratory illness has infected dogs in at least nine states, leading to deaths in rare cases
A mystery respiratory illness sickening dogs across the US has spread to more states, raising fears over a potential canine pandemic as veterinarians struggle to identify the disease and track its origin.
The illness, called Atypical Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (aCIRD), has infected hundreds of dogs in Oregon alone. The first California cases came to light on Tuesday, when the Los Angeles County Public Health Department reported that at least ten dogs had been sickened with the disease.
Dogs in at least seven other states – stretching from New Hampshire to Illinois to Colorado to Washington – have reportedly been affected, and in rare cases, the disease can be fatal. Typical symptoms include coughing, lethargy, nasal discharge, and loss of appetite. Affected dogs have tested negative for common respiratory illnesses that cause similar symptoms.
“I can’t predict where this is going to go,” Dr. Karl Jandrey, a professor at the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, told NBC News. “This is like another mini pandemic, if you will, but it’s not necessarily proven yet that we have it under control.”
Cases of the disease date back at least as far as last August. The illness is resistant to standard treatments for canine respiratory ailments, and researchers are working to identify common DNA segments in samples gathered from veterinary clinics in multiple states. Some dogs have suffered prolonged illnesses with pneumonia-like symptoms.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) warned on Tuesday that cases of canine respiratory illnesses were increasing throughout the US. The group recommended taking several precautions, including keeping pet vaccinations up-to-date and avoiding unnecessary gatherings of dogs, such as taking them to dog parks. “Little is known about the disease and how it spreads,” the AVMA said.
The Los Angeles County Public Health Department recommended that sick dogs be kept at home and isolated for at least 28 days, while canines that were exposed to them should be quarantined at home for 14 days. Some of the affected California dogs have been sick since the beginning of October, and one dog died of the disease, the department told the Los Angeles Times.