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Mysterious Canine Respiratory Illness Spreads Across U.S., Vets Investigate

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Ebenezer Mensah
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Mysterious Canine Respiratory Illness Spreads Across U.S., Vets Investigate

An unusual respiratory illness affecting dogs across multiple states has veterinary scientists racing to find answers. Having first emerged in New Hampshire during the summer of 2022, the disease, characterized by symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and goopy eyes, is proving more persistent and resistant to standard treatments than typical canine upper respiratory conditions.

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Escalating Concerns

Senior veterinary pathologist David Needle and his team at the New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Lab are at the forefront of the investigation. Despite extensive testing, they have been unable to identify any known pathogens, including RNA or DNA viruses, fungi, bacteria, protozoa, or metazoa in affected dogs. Even COVID-19, which has been identified in canine populations, has been ruled out.

A glimmer of hope in the investigation came when Lawrence Gordon, a graduate student, discovered a DNA segment in a significant number of samples that may be linked to a previously undescribed bacterium related to the Mycoplasma genus. However, Needle cautions that it's not yet confirmed if this bacterium is the cause of the illness.

Precautions for Pet Owners

While the disease is not usually fatal and does not transmit to humans, it has raised concerns due to its resistance to standard treatments and prevalence. The syndrome's widespread nature also suggests there may be multiple pathogens involved. Pet owners are advised to stay informed about local outbreaks, seek updates from veterinary research institutions, and ensure dogs are up to date on vaccinations. This advice echoes measures recommended for limiting the spread of COVID-19 in humans, emphasizing the importance of vaccinations and awareness for dogs that frequently interact with others at parks, kennels, and groomers.

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