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Dog guardians are being asked to take care as an unusual strain of kennel cough is appearing in B.C., according to the BC SPCA.

Dr. Emilia Gordon, senior manager of animal health for the BC SPCA says they have been seeing cases appearing in dogs at their facilities throughout the province, but particularly in the Kamloops region.

She notes that in addition to coughing, a small percentage of the infected dogs had eye or nasal discharge.

“Any dogs in our care who were showing symptoms were immediately isolated, but as we began testing for known viruses and bacteria, the tests kept coming back negative,” said Gordon.

“After consulting with specialists, we believe the cause could be a virus that isn’t detected by commercially available tests.”

The BC SPCA has seen 24 cases in its facilities, but more reports are coming in from the community.

A few cases have also appeared on the Island, along with some reports from community veterinarians.

However, Dr. Gordon told Victoria Buzz that because shelter numbers are lower on the Island, the area doesn’t necessarily serve as a good indicator of community trends.

“In general, we believe we are seeing some type of unusual virus popping up around BC because testing hasn’t shown a clear cause for cases that are highly suspected to be viral,” she said.

“Like human colds, ‘kennel cough’ can be caused by many different viruses and bacteria, so it’s most likely something that we know exists but just don’t have a readily available test for.”

The good news, however, is that so far there is no indication that the dogs who have contracted this virus are any sicker than regular kennel cough cases.

There is also no evidence that there is a threatening mutation involved in this increase in cases. So far, all of the dogs are recovering.

The main concern, according to the BC SPCA, is the quick spread of cases.

“Most affected dogs were vaccinated, so while we still recommend the vaccine to reduce illness, it appears that we may be dealing with a virus that is not part of the current vaccine,” said Dr. Gordon.

Dog guardians are urged to isolate pets that begin coughing and to seek veterinary advice.

The BC SPCA says they have collected samples and will be sending them to diagnostic laboratories and specialists to determine the cause of the outbreak.

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