Veterinarians warn of unusual strain of kennel cough in dogs

A potentially dangerous dog virus is spreading among animals in the Wilmington area.
Updated: Sep. 14, 2020 at 10:10 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A potentially dangerous dog virus is spreading among animals in the Wilmington area.

A different strain of kennel cough, a highly contagious respiratory illness, has forced some area veterinary facilities to temporarily suspend any activities that put dogs in close contact.

“In an abundance of caution, and along with other area providers, we will be temporarily closing our doggie daycare and day boarding services,” Atlantic Animal Hospital stated in a letter sent to clients over the weekend.

Symptoms of the virus are in line with kennel cough, a common yet highly contagious respiratory illness prevented by annual Bordetella vaccines.

Veterinarians at Atlantic Animal Hospital say they are seeing an unusual strain of the virus.

“We have a lot of tests out to a reference laboratory and we’ve been talking to clinics around town,” says Dr. Chad Joplin of Atlantic Animal Hospital. “What we are seeing is a different bacteria called Mycoplasma and that’s something that we don’t regularly vaccinate for.”

Symptoms of the virus include a cough, nasal discharge, discharge from the eyes, lethargy, or fever. If your dog starts showing any of these symptoms, you should call your vet or take them to the emergency animal clinic because it could develop into pneumonia.

“Typically, it starts as a dry hacking cough that you’ll hear occasionally, and it can progress into a more persistent cough,” says Dr. Eliza Ruffner of Emergency Animal and Trauma Hospital in Wilmington. “They tend to act bright and alert--no change in attitude. They still want to play they still want to eat. If it gets to the point where they are developing pneumonia that’s when you’ll see increased lethargy. You can see nasal discharge. They will have a more wet cough at that point.”

Dr. Joplin says, because it is spread through airborne droplets, the best thing you can do for now is to social distance your dog from other dogs.

“Just like the way we are doing now with masks and social distancing while we are not sure what’s going around Wilmington, it’s smart not to allow your dog to go nose-to-nose with other dogs that you don’t know.”

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