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Dog illness: Mysterious respiratory illness in dogs reported in Nashville – Tennessean

A mysterious, new respiratory illness attacking dogs across the U.S. has arrived in Nashville.
“Locally, we have seen less than 10 cases,” said Krista Wells, medical director at the Veterinary Emergency Group in Franklin.
Hold your paws, though. Wells said Nashville-area dog owners should not panic.
“They should be concerned in the sense of awareness,” she added.
At this point, Wells said, Nashville dogs are at a “yellow” level of risk. If cases spread in the area and the risk moves to a “red” level, she recommends avoiding dog parks and other places where dogs congregate.
The disease first appeared in August in Oregon — several dogs were treated for an unknown respiratory illness. Antibiotics were ineffective. One dog died after developing pneumonia.
Since then, hundreds of cases have been reported in Oregon. As of Monday, the illness had been reported in more than a dozen states, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Researchers are working to identify the new canine respiratory illness. So far, the dogs Wells has seen in the Nashville area have recovered, even those that developed pneumonia.
“We have not even isolated what the ‘it’ is,” she said. “We are just trying to resolve the symptoms.
Dogs become infected with respiratory infections, just like people. Kennel cough, which pets often catch at dog parks or boarding facilities, is the most common. This new, yet-to-be-identified illness is more dangerous because it can lead to pneumonia and often does not respond to antibiotics.
If a dog begins to cough for more than a week and shows symptoms — sneezing, discharge from their eyes or nose, lethargy, weight loss or breathing difficulty — a visit to a vet is recommended.
The cause of the new illness appears to be a virus, according to early findings from researchers at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science.
Dogs that have died from the new illness have had underlying health conditions.
The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that dog owners make sure their pets have all current vaccines. A healthy dog will be better able to fight this new respiratory illness.
Humans are almost certainly not at risk, although to contain the outbreak people should wash their hands after touching their dog or another dog. Respiratory illnesses normally do not cross to other species, so cats and other pets should not be at risk.
The illness is most likely spread by contact between dogs.
If dogs must be boarded or spend time at a day care, Wells said to ask questions. Did the dog show any symptoms while it was at the facility? Have other dogs at the facility been coughing?
Todd A. Price is a regional reporter for the USA TODAY Network. He can be reached at taprice@gannett.com.


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