Alaska’s Chief Veterinarian Issues Notice About Mystery Disease Killing Dogs in Lower 48

Alaska’s state veterinarian is asking clinics and pet owners to watch for signs of a mysterious respiratory illness. Sick dogs in a dozen US states But it has never been found in Alaska.

“We’re optimistically cautious at this point,” said Dr. Bob Kerlock, who encouraged Alaska pet owners to take precautions now to protect their dogs.

This disease was discovered in America Earlier this summerIt produces several symptoms like coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, lethargy and fever.

The cause of the disease has puzzled researchers. It has been linked to several dog deaths.

“They’ve done a lot of screening and testing, and they don’t even know what’s causing the illness, or whether it’s a new virus or a different strain of the virus that’s causing the problem,” Kerlock said Wednesday.

She encouraged dog owners to avoid letting their pets hang around large groups of unfamiliar dogs.

Owners should call pet boarding facilities and grooming salons in advance to ask about their disease prevention protocols, which include not accepting dogs who are coughing or sick, she said.

Kerlach said this week that while some veterinary clinics in southeast and southcentral Alaska have seen recent increases in common respiratory illnesses this year, none of them have yet been linked to the new disease.

But Gerlock noted that several states where the disease has been diagnosed are near Alaska, including Washington, Oregon and California.

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He said it’s unclear whether this geographic proximity will put Alaska pets at greater risk in the coming days and weeks.

“We don’t know how contagious it is after an animal. If they get past that, how long can they spread the virus, if that,” he said.

[A mysterious illness is sickening dogs in several states. Some are dying.]

Letter of 24 November Gerlach was signed and distributed to all active members of the Alaska Veterinary Medical Association, requesting assistance in monitoring and detection.

“If you see more than normal cases of canine respiratory disease in your clinic or if the severity of cases increases, please contact our office,” the letter said.

It lists several symptoms similar to an undiagnosed disease for veterinarians to look out for:

• Chronic mild to moderate tracheobronchitis lasting six to eight weeks or longer that is minimally responsive to antibiotics.

• Chronic pneumonia with minimal or no response to antibiotics.

• Acute pneumonia can progress rapidly and lead to serious consequences within 24 to 36 hours, including poor health and sometimes death.

“If dogs have any symptoms, pet owners are encouraged to go to their regular veterinarian and do some initial testing to see if there is concern for this new outbreak,” Gerlach said.

Alaska has less state-to-state pet traffic than other states, “so our risk is a little bit lower. But we always try to be proactive, preventive and proactive,” he said.

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