A perplexing illness is sweeping through the canine population in the United States, leaving veterinarians and pet owners searching for answers. Dubbed Atypical Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (aCIRDC), this enigmatic ailment has now been reported in at least 16 states, according to Louisiana State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine.
The first cases of aCIRDC were observed in Oregon earlier this year. The Oregon Veterinary Medical Association reported receiving 200 reports of the illness, which appeared to be concentrated in Portland. Since then, the disease has spread to various states across the West Coast before reaching the East Coast and the Great Lakes region.
The symptoms of aCIRDC include coughing, fever, and lethargy, with some dogs developing pneumonia. Tragically, in certain instances, the illness has proven fatal. Despite extensive efforts, the exact cause of the disease remains unidentified. In collaboration with state animal health officials and diagnostic laboratories, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is diligently working to solve this mystery.
Several holiday dog events have been canceled due to concerns about the disease spreading, and pet owners have been advised to limit their dogs’ social interactions. Experts from LSU’s School of Veterinary Medicine emphasize the importance of vaccination and caution dog owners to take special care when considering travel plans during the holiday season.
The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire’s has made significant progress in identifying a potential bacterium responsible for the illness. Through genetic sequencing, they have found a peculiar bacterium that lacks a cell wall and is smaller than typical bacteria. However, more research is needed to determine if this bacterium is the definitive cause of aCIRDC.
The chief pathologist at the diagnostics lab, David Needle, believes that the illness may be linked to a member of the typical respiratory tract microorganisms that has acquired a virulence-associated gene or trait. The team at LSU is currently analyzing samples from Oregon, as well as expected samples from Colorado and Illinois, in an attempt to isolate the common cause of the illness.
Although pet owners are understandably concerned about the increasing number of dog respiratory illness cases, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service clarifies that these cases do not fall under its jurisdiction. The agency is limited to providing testing support and collaborating with partners. As a result, they do not possess systematic surveillance information on the nationwide prevalence or the initial outbreak of these cases.