A mysterious canine disease circulating in Colorado pets has yet to be identified.

Since a mysterious, potentially fatal respiratory illness has developed. Spreading in the Colorado dog population in September.veterinarians in more than 15 states have reported cases.

The disease, which is unique in both how many dogs are infected and how long symptoms last, has not yet been identified and it is unclear whether the transmission rate is slowing for Colorado.

“Infectious respiratory disease is common in dogs and has a number of viral and bacterial causes,” said Dr. Michael Lippen, a board-certified veterinarian at Colorado State University Teaching Hospital. In a December 4 news release. “However, in recent months, cases are being diagnosed more frequently and the disease course is different than usual, surprising both pet owners and veterinary healthcare providers.”

Experts are not yet sure whether the disease is viral or bacterial, but CSU veterinarians in the release said the infection has been linked to cases of severe pneumonia, some of which have been fatal.

Between September and November, Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital saw more than double the number of cases of canine pneumonia compared to the same period in 2022. According to the release.

It’s also unclear how this mysterious disease is spreading, but CSU veterinarians believe it’s contagious and most likely through direct contact with other dogs.

CSU researchers at the teaching hospital and its diagnostic laboratory are working with the Colorado State Veterinarian’s Office, the USDA and the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association to collect diagnostic data and distribute testing kits to veterinary clinics.

Maggie Baldwin, state veterinarian with the Colorado Department of Agriculture, said the testing CSU is doing is a mixed bag — the goal is to identify any diseases veterinarians already know how to treat. and looking at cultures to determine whether the infection is viral or bacterial.

“CSU has been instrumental in helping to expand diagnostic testing in hopes of finding the root cause of the outbreak,” Gillian Gwartz, a program specialist in the state veterinarian’s office, said in the news release. “We don’t have a definitive causal agent yet, but we’re working with select doctors’ clinics to try to get more samples to see if we can find one.”

By partnering with local veterinary offices to test infected dogs and collect samples, CSU has found that some of the reported cases are common strains of respiratory diseases that would normally be seen in dogs, Baldwin said. There are, like kennel cuffs, Baldwin said.

However, there are still cases that remain a mystery, he said.

According to Baldwin, CSU expects to have additional testing results as early as 2024 that will hopefully help researchers identify what is actually spreading and how to stop it.

Some veterinarians, like Scott Weiss of the University of Guelph-Ontario Veterinary College, believe the increase in cases is due to COVID-19. During the pandemic, dog ownership increased, veterinary and boarding care decreased, and vaccination rates decreased, all of which may have resulted in lower levels of immune resistance and post-pandemic immunity. More chances of catching respiratory diseases regularly, He said at a virtual panel on November 30.

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