Fear of respiratory disease leaves dog dead and 17 sick at shelter

A dog has died after a canine respiratory illness was discovered this week at the Animal Foundation shelter in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The dog was first discovered on September 28 and was with a foster family when he showed the first signs of the disease. The shelter said the dog’s symptoms were so severe that he had to be euthanized.

Just two days later, test results showed the dog had tested positive for two types of canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD) — Strep Zoo and Canine Pneumovirus.

Zoo Strep is a bacterial upper respiratory tract infection that can cause serious illness in animals. Horses are most commonly affected, more dogs contract the infection, and it is particularly common in animal shelters where the disease can spread quickly.

Dog paw close up on metal cage
A closeup image of a dog’s paw against a metal cage at an animal shelter. One dog has died and 17 others are ill after an outbreak of respiratory illness at a Las Vegas animal shelter.
Nikolay_Popov/Getty Images

Infected dogs often show signs such as a sudden fever, sneezing, rapid and shallow breathing, lethargy and a reluctance to eat.

Canine pneumovirus is another respiratory disease in dogs that was first discovered in the United States in 2010. While some patients with this condition do not require treatment, some dogs can be severely affected, requiring hospitalization and aggressive treatment.

Because these forms of CIRD are very easily transmitted from animal to animal, the shelter immediately notified anyone who left the facility with a dog who may have had contact with the sick animal.

Katherine Polak, vice president of service animals at Humane Society International, narrates news week: “CIRD can be a significant problem in many animal shelters due to the ease of spread of these pathogens, close contact between animals and high levels of stress.”

“The veterinary team has been closely monitoring our shelter animals and because we are seeing an increase in upper respiratory disease, we have submitted further diagnostic tests to the lab,” The Animal Foundation said in a post on Facebook.

In addition to the dog who died, 17 other dogs in the foundation are showing signs of upper respiratory illness and have all been started on a course of antibiotics.

“Respiratory diseases often correlate strongly with the time an animal stays at the shelter. Taking an animal out of the shelter and into a foster or adoptive home can be an effective way to treat disease,” Polak explained.

The Animal Foundation informed the public on Tuesday: “Upon the advice of our veterinary team, we have paused adoptions, transfers and foster care as a precaution while we move dogs around campus that may have been exposed to a respiratory illness. There is an inherent risk in housing stray animals as we as an organization often know very little about them.”

This comes as other shelters in the US have reported a mysterious respiratory illness in dogs, as veterinarians are also reporting a rise in kennel cough.

Meanwhile, just days earlier, The Animal Foundation posted a crisis appeal on social media due to the number of animals in their care. On September 27, the foundation said it had “more than 100 cats and 200 dogs that need to leave the shelter as soon as possible” as it urged the public to come and care for animals and volunteers to stay at the shelter help.

While CIRD is known to spread rapidly in shelters, the good news is that there are many tools available to prevent and diagnose disease in dogs.

“One of the most important management practices a shelter can take is to ensure dogs are vaccinated against common respiratory viruses immediately or even prior to admission,” Polak said.

She also reassured pet owners, saying: “While respiratory illnesses can be common in shelter dogs, most infections are self-limiting and rarely fatal, meaning most cases will resolve on their own. One of the best treatments for a dog with a mild illness is to place them in a warm, stress-free home. Most dogs recover in this environment within a few weeks.

“However, new adopters need to be aware that CIRD can spread to other dogs in the household, so it’s important to ensure all dogs in the household are up to date to reduce the risk of disease. Vaccinated, healthy dogs in a household will usually develop mild, if any, clinical signs, but owners should consult their veterinarian if they have any concerns.”

https://www.newsweek.com/fear-respiratory-illness-leaves-dog-dead-17-sick-shelter-las-vegas-1749109 Fear of respiratory disease leaves dog dead and 17 sick at shelter

Rick Schindler

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