JACKSON, Wyo. — Though the warm weather has us hitting the trails with our canine companions, the Jackson community should be aware that an uptick in kennel-cough-like bacteria cases has been reported to local veterinarians.
Outbreaks of the same bacteria have been present in years past, and occur at least once a year, but Dr. Ernest Patterson, of the Animal Care Center, says that he has noticed more Mycoplasma activity this year than in previous years.
“We definitely started to see an uptick in the past three weeks, and especially in the past ten days or so. I would say it seems to be a little bit more pronounced than previous years,” said Patterson. “Mycoplasma is kind of a broad group of organisms, but that’s what we’re seeing now.”
Bordetella, commonly referred to as “kennel cough”, shares symptoms with Mycoplasma bacteria which causes a contagious cough or gagging in dogs. Nowadays, kennel cough has a vaccine and is rarely seen.
“In the dog respiratory world we throw the term kennel cough around kind of loosely,” Patterson said. “For the dogs that we have cultured everyone of them has tested positive for Mycoplasma, and cultured negative for Bordetella [kennel cough], or any new strains of flu.”
A third bacteria that causes a contagious cough is Influenza, but most dogs are vaccinated for the more common strain. Two new strains of the dog Influenza have been found in the United States according to Patterson, but no cases have been documented in Teton County.
Recently, the Animal Care Center has been seeing around two to three dogs a day with Mycoplasma. There is no vaccine for the bacteria, but it is usually not dangerous to dogs, despite a bad cough or a gag. However, in some rare cases, dogs may develop pneumonia from the bacteria.
“It’s less likely to cause a serious disease, but it could move into pneumonia which is very uncommon with Mycoplasma,” said Patterson.
Dogs with Mycoplasma are typically treated at the vet with cough suppression and a particular antibiotic that responds well to the organism. After being treated, vets recommend quarantining the dog or keeping it away from other dogs for around ten days.
Although spread is very common, there are ways to minimize the chance of dogs picking up the bacteria. Keeping dogs on their leashes, and not allowing them to meet each other can help according to Patterson. Avoiding areas where dogs typically congregate, like dog parks, kennels, or popular trails, can also help minimize the spread.