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Mysterious Respiratory Illness Spreading Nationwide Found in Two Arizona Canines

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – Pet owners across the Valley are on high alert, with the number of dogs diagnosed with a mysterious respiratory illness on the rise in 14 states, including California, Colorado, Oregon, Florida and New Hampshire. So far, there have been only two confirmed cases in Arizona, but Scottsdale Veterinarian Nathan Scholten at the Hopi Animal Hospital thinks it’s just a matter of time before there are more.

Dr. Scholten said they have seen an increase in dogs coming in with respiratory problems, but since it’s unclear whether the mystery illness is bacterial or viral, it’s been difficult to treat or diagnose. “To date, they have checked all the samples that have come in, and none of them match any of the known infectious respiratory pathogens,” said Scholten. “They’ve also tested it for Covid, and it’s not Covid either.”

Symptoms are similar to kennel cough, yet dogs are not responding to standard medical treatment, and symptoms can last up to 6 weeks. The illness can lead to pneumonia, especially in dogs with pre-existing conditions.

Kim Wiggins loves taking her pit bull mix Tandy to the dog park, but she may take a break for a while after hearing about the mystery illness making dogs sick across the country. “I can’t put a mask on her,” said Wiggins. “So I can just keep her home and walk around the neighborhood and make sure she is not around other dogs.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association is recommending that dog owners take some precautions since the unknown illness is likely spread from dog to dog. They suggest making sure your dog is fully vaccinated, keeping pets out of kennels, if possible, and avoiding dog parks and grooming facilities through the holidays. 

“It makes me worry, especially since he is 8 years old,” said dog owner Stephanie Howell. ‘You start to think, is it something that could affect him long term? Is it something that can’t be treated? Will it go away?”

Dr. Scholten does not think the mystery illness is something pet owners should panic about since most cases are not fatal. “I think it’s a little bit overblown,” said Scholten. “The mortality rate and number of animals actually dying is very low. This is very similar to a summer cold. Most of the cases are recovering without any problems.”

According to Scholten, pet owners don’t need to rush their dogs to the animal hospital at the first sign of a cough. Just monitor it and look for other symptoms. If it lingers for a few days, then get it checked out.

Source: AZ Family