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Unexplained Dog Respiratory Illness Sparks Public Health Investigation in Los Angeles County

Atypical Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (aCIRD) Prompts Urgent Measures

By Dolores Quintana

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Veterinary Public Health Program is actively investigating a surge in reports concerning an unidentified respiratory illness affecting dogs, mirroring similar cases in various states. Symptoms include coughing, nasal discharge, sneezing, and lethargy. 

The Public Health team is currently engaged in a comprehensive case-finding initiative to assess the scope and nature of this novel respiratory ailment in Los Angeles County. The Department of Health stated that updates will be provided to the public as more information becomes available.

Since November 16, 2023, ten instances of respiratory illness in dogs have been reported by veterinarians in Los Angeles. Notably, these dogs tested negative for common viruses and bacteria through the respiratory panel designed for such symptoms. Owners are being contacted to ascertain potential sources of infection. Ongoing collaboration with federal and state entities is underway to ensure a coordinated response as investigations progress.

The current designation for this respiratory condition is Atypical Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (aCIRD). Cases are identified by a negative canine respiratory PCR test panel, coupled with one of the following clinical scenarios:

  1. Chronic mild-moderate respiratory infection lasting more than six weeks with minimal or no response to antibiotics.
  2. Chronic pneumonia is minimally responsive to antibiotics.
  3. Acute pneumonia rapidly progresses to severe outcomes within 24-36 hours.

Given the uncertainty surrounding the ailment’s origin, veterinarians and dog owners are urged to remain vigilant for symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, and lethargy in their dogs.

In the event of these symptoms, owners are advised to:

  1. Contact their pet’s veterinarian for evaluation and potential tests and medications.
  2. Isolate sick dogs at home for a minimum of 28 days from the onset of illness. Dogs exposed to the sick dog should quarantine for 14 days, monitoring for signs of illness.
  3. Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces, doorknobs, keyboards, and animal equipment using an EPA-registered disinfectant or a stronger bleach solution.
  4. Keep the affected dog at home, away from daycare, boarding kennels, grooming facilities, and dog parks.
  5. If a dog falls ill after being boarded or in a facility, owners should seek veterinary evaluation and notify the facility of the illness.
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