Rare pneumonia kills 2 Ottawa dogs

Scary news out of the Ottawa area, where a rare and virulent form of hemorrhagic pneumonia has killed two dogs at the Ottawa Humane Society.

From CBC News

Humane society veterinarians said they have never seen this type of disease before. The dogs initially suffer from a cough, lethargy and fever, but the symptoms rapidly progress, with the animals coughing up blood and dying within a day.

The first humane society dog developed symptoms in mid-summer, while the second got sick in early September. Since then, staff have treated every dog with antibiotics, disinfected every pen, and briefly placed a moratorium on adoptions — which was lifted a week ago.

The disease is apparently bacterial, caused by Streptococcus equi. This disease (usually called ‘Strangles’) is more commonly seen in horses. It is apparently very uncommon for Strangles to affect anything other than equine species, as most of the websites I could find on the topic stressed –

Caused by bacteria—Streptococcus equi—that only causes disease in equine species (horses, donkeys and mules). Normally not a danger to humans or other domestic species.

In the case of the Ottawa shelter dogs, the disease was severe and swift. There is no vaccination against it, and veterinarians still don’t know where it came from, or how it was spread.

“It’s frightening for sure,” Hutchings said. “We don’t really know what the incubation period is. There’s a lot we don’t understand about transmission or which dogs it will affect.”

It is suspected that cramped shelter conditions, and the stress they cause in dogs housed in these conditions, can exacerbate the disease.

Bruce Roney, Ottawa Humane Society executive director, said the infections highlight the need for the new shelter, which is slated to open in 2011.

“We don’t have proper isolation space in this building,” he said. “It makes [diseases] so difficult to control.”

Full story here.