No Case of Mysterious Respiratory Illnesses Affecting Dogs in S’pore Yet


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Singapore Remains Free of Mysterious Canine Respiratory Illness Reported in the U.S.

A mysterious respiratory illness has been impacting dogs across various states in the United States.

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reported that Oregan Department of Agriculture (ODA) has received more than 200 case reports from veterinarians since the middle of August. This illness has been reported in at least 14 states, including Colorado, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Washington.

Dog owners in Singapore, don’t panic just yet. The Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS) has stated that no known reports of the same illness have been made in Singapore to date.

Dr Chua Tze Hoong, AVS’s Group Director of Veterinary Health, informed TODAY that the agency is proactively reaching out to veterinarians and industry stakeholders, urging them to report any respiratory disease resembling the cases in the US.

Clinical Symptoms of the Canine Illness

This illness could be a new type of bacterial infection adept at evading a dog’s immune system.

It presents symptoms akin to other respiratory illnesses such as kennel cough, which is a highly contagious, common airway infection in dogs. Symptoms include coughing, nasal discharge, lethargy, and laboured breathing.

Reported cases to the ODA mainly fall within these three categories:

  • Chronic mild to moderate inflammation of the trachea which lasts for six to eight weeks or longer, minimally or not unresponsive to antibiotics.
  • Chronic pneumonia, minimally or not responsive to antibiotics.
  • Acute pneumonia that rapidly worsens, leading to severe outcomes within 24-36 hours.

Current Research Findings

Researchers from the University of New Hampshire’s Veterinary Diagnosis Laboratory and the Hubbard Centre for Genome Studies told NBC News they have discovered an unknown germ which could be potentially linked to this sickness.

This pathogen is a “funky bacterium” that was discovered through samples from 30 dogs from New Hampshire and 40 dogs from Rhode Island and Massachusetts who were infected. Dr. David Needle, a pathology section chief at the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture at the University of New Hampshire said that this germ could be the potential cause of the disease.

However, it might likely be evolved from the dog’s gut microbiome.

Thus, exact cause of the illness remains uncertain, but this germ is something unfamiliar to veterinarians.


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How The Health & Safety of Singapore’s Animal Population is Safeguarded

As concerning as this illness sounds, there is still some reassurance to be felt for paw-rents in Singapore. NParks has a biosecurity and biosurveillance programme in place.

AVS has leveraged technology to improve the management of animal diseases that could harm animal or human health. They have even established an Animal Quarantine Centre at Jalan Lekar which is a quarantine facility to monitor any signs of illnesses in newly arrived dogs and cats.

This centre also conducts tests for any infectious diseases such as rabies or canine parvovirus in sick animals.

This programme plays a crucial role in detecting any diseases that could be threaten animal and public health, thereby, ensuring the safety of Singapore’s animal population.

Cautionary Measures to Take

Although Singapore has no reported cases thus far, it is important to note that respiratory diseases spread quickly between dogs through direct contact or via sneeze and cough droplets from infected dogs.

So please take the following precautionary measures to protect your precious fur babies. Dr Chua of AVS recommends ensuring that your dogs are up to date with their vaccinations as recommended by their vets and adhering to good hygiene which includes washing your hands well before and after interacting with dogs.

Additionally, if your dog happens to be unwell, avoid taking it to communal spaces such as dog parks, until it has fully recovered.

For household with multiple pets, isolate any sick animal to prevent the spreading of the infection. Ensure that you wash bedding, towels, and food dishes used by the infected pet.

It would also be useful to use separate food and water bowls for all your pets to prevent the transmission of any illness through saliva.

And of course, wash your hands thoroughly after each encounter.


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In the meantime, if you’re worried about the respiratory diseases spreading in China instead, watch this to the end: