Mysterious rabies respiratory disease: symptoms, everything you need to know
Veterinary laboratories are warning pet owners of a contagious respiratory disease that was first discovered among dogs a few months ago.
The American Veterinary Medical Association said in a press release on Friday that cases have spread to at least five states while experts are still trying to figure out the cause of the disease.
Here’s everything to know about the mysterious disease, symptoms to look for, and what to do if you suspect your dog is infected.
What is the mysterious dog disease?
Veterinarians describe the disease as a respiratory illness that can cause coughing, sneezing, and lethargy. They say it can sometimes lead to pneumonia and does not respond to antibiotics.
Experts don’t yet fully understand the disease and its cause, says David Needle, a senior veterinary pathologist at the University of New Hampshire’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Needle said he and his colleagues at the university’s Hubbard Genome Research Center have been studying the virus for more than a year.
Since mid-August, Oregon veterinarians have reported more than 200 cases, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Numbers from other states have not yet been revealed.
Which countries have cases of rabies?
Cases of the disease have been reported in several states including New Hampshire, Colorado, Oregon, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, according to the New York Times. However, experts said the situation is nothing to worry about, but they still advise pet owners to practice basic precautions to ensure the health of their pets.
How does respiratory disease spread?
Given the respiratory nature of the disease, it is likely to spread through close contact and breathing the same air of an infected animal, similar to how COVID-19 spreads, Needle said.
Is rabies fatal?
The disease is not particularly fatal and is a chronic respiratory disease, Needle says.
“I think a subset of animals can get pneumonia, such as upper respiratory tract infection, bronchitis, rhinitis, tracheitis,” Needle said.
For animals that suffer from this secondary infection, it can lead to death, Needle explained.
Needle said he and his team have not seen a significant rise in deaths from the disease, but they still encourage pet owners to minimize contact with other dogs.
What are the symptoms of rabies?
Here are some common symptoms of respiratory disease in dogs:
- difficulty breathing
- Rapid breathing
- Wheezing or nasal whistling
- Difficulty exercising
- Discharge from the nose or eyes
- Weight loss
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What should you do if you suspect your dog is infected?
If you notice any of the symptoms in your dog, especially any symptoms that may be related to pneumonia, contact your veterinarian immediately, the Oregon Department of Agriculture said.
They also asked veterinarians in the state to report cases as soon as possible.
How can you protect your dog from respiratory diseases?
Needle advises dog owners to make sure their pets’ vaccinations are up to date, so they don’t have any underlying conditions. They also suggest social distancing from dogs and other animals to prevent transmission of pathogens.
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Contributing: The Associated Press
Saman Shafiq is a trending news reporter for USA TODAY. Contact her at email@example.com and follow her on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter @saman_shafiq7.