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Breaking down the mysterious canine infectious respiratory disease

Breaking down the mysterious canine infectious respiratory disease


Experts in canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD) are urging caution as a mysterious canine respiratory disease continues to make headlines in the United States. As incidences of the mysterious virus are increasingly reported across the country, it is becoming widely discussed among veterinary professionals and their clients.

The pathogen or virus causing this Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD) is unknown. Investigators in Oregon and New Hampshire are among those researching the disease.1

In Oregon, more than 200 reports of CIRD cases have been received by the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) since August 2023.2 The ODA is reportedly working to identify the cause of these cases in collaboration with local veterinary professionals at Oregon State University’s Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, and the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory.1

The University of New Hampshire’s New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Lab and its’ Hubbard Center for Genomic Studies started investigating this respiratory disease in mid-2022. Preliminary findings released in June 2023 showed that investigators were unable to identify any pathogens responsible for the CIDA.2

The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) reported calls coming in over a recent period of 2 months from veterinarians experiencing double the typical number of patients with canine infectious respiratory disease in the state than what is normally seen during an outbreak of this type.3

Silene St. Bernard, regional medical director for VCA animal hospitals in Southern California, DVM, DACVPM, said they are also seeing an increase in respiratory cases in different locations, in an interview with dvm360’s The Vet Blast Podcast. “Some of those cases are cleanly getting diagnosed with assorted viruses and bacteria that we already know about and can test for. But we seem to have some cases in some locations that are progressing to more serious illness, potentially into a pneumonia, and we don’t have diagnoses for all of them.”

There are more than 10 states, including Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, with similar patterns of CIRD incidence, according to the CDA.3,4 With the rise of attention to this disease through national media and worried clients calling clinics to ask about their pet’s risks and health, it is important to understand what is known about this disease.

Presentation and diagnosing

The canines that are at risk have interactions with other dogs through boarding, daycares, parks, and groomers. Although shelters are typically at risk for outbreaks due to crowing, animal shelter animals appear to be less affected by unknown pathogens such as this.5

Dogs that are presenting with this disease at clinics typically have an acute cough, sneezing, nasal and eye discharge, fever, anorexia, and lethargy. Carl Osborne, DVM, Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center and Pet Clinic in Ohio, also advises clients whose dogs are coughing to remove their pet’s collar. This way, it will not further irritate their trachea or hamper their breathing.6

Teams that suspect a patient has this disease can test by swabbing the dog for a PCR test within 4 days of the first clinical signs. When the dogs are tested earlier, veterinary teams can prevent missing pathogens within a short shedding period, including CIV, pneumovirus, and respiratory coronavirus.5

The respiratory PCR panels should include Bordetella bonchiseptic, canine adenovirus type 2, canine distemper virus, influenza A virus, mycoplasma cynos, streptococcus equi subsp, zooepidemicus, and more.5 The cultures could be indicated for suspected bacterial infection not responsive to first-line treatment with 3 companies having commercial diagnostic laboratories for respiratory PCR panels: IDEXX Respiratory Disease (CRD) RealPCE Panel Comprehensive Canine (2524), Antech Canine Respiratory PCR Panel Code T995, and Cornell Canine Respiratory PCR Panel (CRPNL).5

If the case is mild enough, it can be self-limited without treatment. However, cough suppressants may be used to make the pet more comfortable. Pets may need to be hospitalized for nebulization, intravenous antibiotics, oxygen therapy, and rehydration, and in severe cases, ventilatory support may be required.

Prevention and protection

Emphasizing the importance of keeping up with vaccinations, including canine influenza, Bordetella, and parainfluenza, to clients can help keep dogs safe from diseases. Because this disease is highly contagious, keeping dogs away from unfamiliar dogs, when possible, can keep them safe. If clinics have infected pets, they should implement a standard isolation and quarantine procedure for dogs and promptly isolate them using personal protective equipment.

Veterinary clinics should let their clients know if they are bringing in a dog that is presenting with respiratory, they should call ahead to let the staff know. This gives teams the chance to assess them outside before bringing them into the clinic to minimize the risk to pets in the waiting room or other exam rooms. Teams should also sanitize all animal areas, fomites, and any other possibly contaminated areas including, but not limited to, desk spaces, doorknobs, and phones.5

St. Bernard also said that if they are coming into contact with this illness within their clinic and then going home to pets of their own, changing their clothes at the door and making sure everything is wiped down is a way to not bring this illness into their own home.

As more information comes to light on this emerging CIRD, dvm360 will continue to report on important updates.


  1. Canine infectious respiratory disease in Oregon. News release. Oregon Veterinary Medical Association. Updated November 28, 2023. Accessed November 28, 2023.
  2. New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Canine respiratory outbreak. University of New Hampshire College of Life Sciences and Agriculture. November 21, 2023. Accessed November 28, 2023.
  3. Canine respiratory disease. Colorado Department of Agriculture. Updated November 22, 2023. Accessed November 28, 2023.
  4. Canine respiratory outbreak. University of New Hampshire College of Life Sciences and Agriculture. November 21, 2023. Accessed November 28, 2023.
  5. Mysterious Respiratory Disease Reportedly Spreading Among Dogs Across the Country. News release. University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. November 27, 2023. Accessed November 30, 2023.
  6. Mystery Canine Illness Sweeping the Nation. News release. Chargin Falls Veterinary Center and Pet Clinic. November 28, 2023. Accessed December 1, 2023.




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