K-State veterinarian issues canine 'toxic shock' advisory

MANHATTAN -- A "mystery disease" that killed a number of racing greyhounds throughout the United States in 1992 and struck again earlier this year in greyhounds and other breeds, has resulted in veterinarians at Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine issuing a canine health advisory.

According to Dr. Brad Fenwick, professor of veterinary medicine, the advisory has been issued to make dog owners and veterinarians aware of streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, a canine form of toxic shock. In light of the acute and unexpected nature of the disease, as well as the high death rates associated with it -- even with appropriate veterinary care, Fenwick said it is particularly important dog owners become aware of the symptoms of canine streptococcal toxic shock.

Fenwick said canine streptococcal toxic shock has generated a great deal of concern and questions from dog owners. In many respects the disease mimics the condition in humans, which can be just as serious.

"Streptococcus bacteria cause the 'flesh-eating' disease in humans," Fenwick said. "Much of what is known about prevention and treatment has been through comparing the human disease with the condition in dogs. In turn we are hopeful that by studying the disease in dogs we can learn more about how to prevent toxic shock in humans."

Like the disease in humans, dogs that develop canine streptococcal toxic shock are healthy only hours prior to becoming very sick. Without prompt therapy, the dog's condition deteriorates rapidly with death occurring in as few as eight to 12 hours. Typically, dogs that develop canine streptococcal toxic shock are depressed and too weak to move; experience rigidity and muscle spasms, coupled with a high fever.

Fenwick said the dog's temperature may be greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit and may reach as high as 107. As the disease progresses, a deep, non-productive cough develops, followed by a rapid onset of spontaneous hemorrhaging, coughing up b

Contact: Dr. Brad Fenwick
Kansas State University

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