Norfolk owner Judith Dragonette has written to warn those travelling in the Southwest, particularly Arizona, of a disease which affected her dog, Joseph.
Coccidioididomycosis, or Valley Fever, is a disease caused by the fungus Coccidioides immitis, which exists as a mold found in the soil. The highest incidence of this disease occurs in the dessert areas of the southwestern United States. The disease can be found in most species of domestic animals, many exotic animals, and in man. It is not considered contagious from one animal to another, or from animals to man. It occurs as the result of the inhalation of fungal spores directly from the soil or from dust in the air.
There are two forms of Valley Fever, the primary form and the disseminated form. In the primary form, the infection develops two to four weeks from the time of exposure, and is still primarily located in the lungs and thoracic lymph nodes. In the disseminated form, the disease process has advanced, allowing the infection to spread from the original lung site to other areas of the body, to bones, joints, skin, brain, liver, kidney, and almost any other tissue, with lameness a common sign.
The signs seen with the primary form of the disease may include an elevated temperature of 104 to 105 degrees (normal in a dog is 101 to 102 degrees), listlessness, anorexia, and a pronounced dry, harsh cough.
In disseminated cases, infection of the bones is the most prevalent type, causing lameness or limping. Other signs could include swelling of joints, weight loss, chronic coughing, skin abscesses, pain, eye problems, incoordination or seizures.
Treatment varies based on the location of the infection and the degree to which the individual animal is affected, and several antifungal medications can be used.
If you live or travel in the southwest, it may be helpful to mention Valley Fever to your veterinarian should your dog exhibit any of the symptoms mentioned.
ANTIC, June, 2004
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