Valley Fever: What You Should Know

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The Great Dane Club of America recently held its national show in Phoenix, Ariz. on Oct. 14-20. Some human attendees have reported becoming ill with the flu since the show. There have also been some cases of Valley Fever (coccidioidomycosis) reported in people attending the show.

At this time, there have been no reports of either the canine influenza virus or of dogs contracting Valley Fever. The influenza virus generally caught by humans and Valley Fever cannot be transmitted between people and dogs. However, it’s important that dog owners who were in the area be aware of Valley Fever, as dogs are also susceptible to the disease.

 

What Is Valley Fever and How Is It Spread?

Valley Fever is a dust-borne, noncontagious fungal infection commonly found in areas such as the southwestern United States, Mexico, Central America, and South America. The fungal infection is generally found in the soil, often after it rains. It is usually spread when soil is disturbed, such as when a dog digs in it, or when construction is occurring in the area. The fungus is not contagious from person to person, from animal to animal, or between people and animals.

 

What Are the Symptoms?

The incubation period for Valley Fever is generally 7-21 days. Symptoms vary depending upon the severity of the illness. Some dogs may exhibit no signs, and many dogs may show mild respiratory signs and recover uneventfully. The more fungal spores a dog inhales, the more severe the infection will be, and the sicker the dog will become.

 

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Symptoms include:

  • Lethargy
  • Cough
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Limping
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Abscesses
  • Intermittent diarrhea

Although many of these symptoms are similar to those of the canine influenza virus and other illnesses, Valley Fever requires treatment with specific antifungal medications. Valley Fever can be potentially fatal to dogs, so it’s important to seek veterinary care as soon as you notice symptoms.

 

What Should You Do?

If your dog has traveled to an area where Valley Fever is common and begins to show some of the above symptoms, you should contact your veterinarian. Let him or her know that your dog was recently in an area where Valley Fever is common, so that he or she can conduct the appropriate tests and provide the appropriate treatment. Your dog may need to be on specific antifungal medication for an extended period of time (up to one year). Some dogs may require lifetime treatment. Dogs that recover from Valley Fever can suffer a relapse.

As previously mentioned, there have been no confirmed cases of Valley Fever in dogs attending the recent Great Dane National Specialty in Phoenix. We are providing this information so that you can be aware of the disease, watch for symptoms, and seek veterinary care for your dog, if necessary.

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