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The mysterious canine respiratory disease: What we know and what we don’t so far


As this disease continues to spread across the United States, Drs Adam Christman and Silene St. Bernard discuss the latest information available to veterinary professionals

As this mysterious canine respiratory disease begins to infect dogs in multiple states and make headlines across the nation, many pet parents and veterinary teams are seeking out information to better understand this disease, and how to keep their pets safe. Because there is little information out there, what exactly do veterinary professionals know about this illness, and what can clients do to keep their loved pets happy and healthy?

During this week’s episode of The Vet Blast Podcast, Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, invited Silene St. Bernard, DVM, DACVPM, regional medical director at VCA Hospitals, to discuss the diagnosing process for this disease, how veterinary teams should be talking about it with clients, and how veterinary teams can keep their own pets safe when they return home from the clinic.

Silene St. Bernard, DVM, DACVPM: I think that the biggest challenge is that there's a ton of information in the media and we don't have a lot of information to actually provide. So we are seeing an increase in respiratory cases, spotty all around the US and different locations. Some of those cases are cleanly getting diagnosed with assorted viruses and bacteria that we already know about and contest for. But we seem to have some cases in some locations that are progressing to more serious illness, potentially into pneumonia and we don't have diagnoses for all of them. Not everybody diagnoses these for respiratory illness in dogs. It's becoming more common. We've had outbreaks in the past several years. So people I think, are more comfortable with our diagnostics now and will do more testing. But a lot of them potentially get treated just get better, which is what's happening with most of them and don't we don't have a firm diagnosis.

What we're trying to identify now is, is there something new out there that we need to know about that we either can diagnose and/or need to figure out how to treat. I just don't think we have a clean answer if it's a virus or a bacteria or something else or a combination thereof, a lot of our respiratory diseases are combination disease. We see mycoplasma combined with Bordetella and things like that, too. So we're trying to do a lot of testing all the veterinary labs, universities, public health departments, on the veterinary side, of course, are all working on trying to come up with some answers. But we don't have one yet.

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