INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) — Hoosier dog owners should be on the lookout for an “unusual” illness in dogs that has recently been spotted across the state, according to the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH).
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BOAH has received reports of an unknown respiratory illness from veterinarians in Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Bloomington and Evansville.
Most cases start with a dry, hacking cough similar to “kennel cough,” and affected dogs may also show signs of lethargy, fever, decreased appetite, nasal discharge, respiratory distress or pneumonia, according to BOAH.
The organization currently does not have an accurate way to determine how many cases there are in Indiana since reporting cases in voluntary.
“Recent and upcoming holiday travel and boarding may generate a spike in cases in the coming weeks and through the end of the year,” said Melissa Justice, a veterinarian with BOAH.
So far, BOAH has only received one reported case where a dog died due to the disease.
According to BOAH, case reports show the disease can all breeds, but dogs with flat faces seem to be more susceptible to the symptoms of the disease.
BOAH recommended Hoosiers pay attention to signs of illness in their dogs and to make sure their dogs are up-to-date on vaccinations.
“Dog owners should not be worried — instead exercise caution and be intentional in protecting the health of their pets,” Justice said.
Rena Carlson, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), said it is not yet known whether the disease can be transmitted to humans but that the risk of people getting sick from other canine respiratory diseases is “extremely low.”
Carlson also said the AVMA has been asked about using chloramphenicol, a medication used to treat pinkeye in humans, to treat the disease, but Carlson recommended dog owners consult their local veterinarian first before giving medications to their dog.
The AVMA also noted chloramphenicol is “usually reserved for very severe disease.”
The specific cause of the disease has not been identified.