Local Colorado Dog illness; unknown cause

Around mid-February [2011], Dr Stacee Santi, managing veterinarian at Riverview Animal Hospital in Durango started seeing a “skyrocketing” number of dogs presenting with a cough much thicker than those suffering from kennel cough and some that had progressed to pneumonia.“We’re in a tourist town, so generally after the holidays, there’s a
little surge of kennel cough,” says Dr Stacee Santi.

“It was really bizarre,” she says, adding the dogs typically were not
responsive to antibiotic treatment.

At a quarterly meeting of the Four Corners Veterinary Association,
comprised of all the veterinary practices in Durango, Santi discovered
that other veterinarians in town were seeing the same thing. About 150
in all — 50 at her practice alone-are suspected to have succumbed to
the mystery ailment, but none died and all have made full recoveries
after about 3 weeks.

The primary complaint of clients was the dog’s cough, but Santi says
clinical signs also included low-grade fever, nasal discharge varying
from clear to thick, and occasional conjunctivitis. The coughing
ranged from a dry cough similar to that found with kennel cough
turning into a more moist cough, Santi says.

About 75 percent of the dogs identified to be suffering from clinical
signs of the same ailment had spent time at a local dog daycare
facility, but a number of the center’s “regulars” showed no signs.
Santi says the owner’s dogs — who regularly attend the daycare —
have not gotten sick. Veterinarians in neighboring towns have not seen
any cases, either, Santi says.

“I don’t know if we’re dealing with a new virus that hasn’t been
isolated or a new form of the flu. At this point it’s kind of up in
the air,” Santi says.

About 150 dogs in Durango, Colorado, have fallen ill with what one
local veterinarian can only call a “mystery.”

Samples were sent to the US Department of Agriculture and other
veterinary epidemiologists, but experts have not confirmed the ailment
yet, she says. About 75 percent of the samples were negative for
everything, and others had some positives for more common infections,
but the results were not consistent for any one particular problem,
Santi explains. The samples have been negative so far for H3N8, canine
influenza. Santi consulted with Dr Cynda Crawford of the University of
Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, who told her canine flu has
not been found to mutate yet….
The outbreak seems to be winding down now, Santi says. But at its
peak, her clinic was seeing 2 to 3 cases a day. “I’m kind of feeling
like it’s dying down, and the other vets are feeling the same (way).”