Colorado cases of a mysterious canine respiratory disease are decreasing, but experts still don’t know the cause

Fewer dogs are getting sick with a mysterious, potentially fatal respiratory illness that surged among Colorado canines this fall, but researchers are still trying to answer questions about the disease’s origins.

Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital and the Colorado Department of Agriculture reported double the number of respiratory illnesses among dogs this fall, mirroring similar outbreaks in Oregon, California, Florida and New Hampshire.

While respiratory illnesses among dogs are not uncommon, this particular strain caused dogs to have a cough that lasted for weeks and resulted in more cases of pneumonia. In some cases, dogs died from the disease.

In a news release Monday, Dr. Michael Lappin, an internal medicine specialist and director of the Center for Companion Animal Studies at CSU, said it’s not clear why cases decreased but it could be related to pets spending less time in social situations with other dogs.

CSU experts are partnering with clinics in Fort Collins, Denver, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction to research whether cases of the disease are connected to one of 10 viruses or bacteria known to cause canine respiratory disease, the university said in a news release.

Researchers are also trying to determine if those viruses or bacteria have changed or if there’s another cause for the spike in disease.

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