Author(s): Nichols MC, Ettestad PJ, Vinhatton ES, Melman SD, Onischuk L,
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To describe the epidemiology, clinical signs, and treatment practices in dogs with Yersinia pestis infection in New Mexico. DESIGN: Retrospective case series. ANIMALS: 62 dogs with plague in New Mexico. PROCEDURES: Confirmed case animals had isolation of Yersinia pestis from a clinical specimen, a positive direct fluorescent antibody test result, or a minimum 4-fold change between acute and convalescent serum antibody titers with clinically compatible illness. Retrospective review of cases of laboratory-confirmed plague from 2003 to 2011 was performed with a standardized chart abstraction form. Epidemiologic, clinical, and treatment data were evaluated. RESULTS: 62 confirmed cases of canine plague were identified from 2003 to 2011. Most cases (85\%) were confirmed by serologic titers alone or in conjunction with other testing methods. Clinical signs included fever (100\%), lethargy (97\%), anorexia (77\%), lymphadenopathy (23\%), vomiting (13\%), diarrhea (8\%), and abscesses (2\%). Most case animals (73\%) were treated with multiple antimicrobials. Sixty (97\%) case animals survived; of the 2 nonsurvivors, one was euthanized and another died. Potential sources of exposure to Y pestis included hunting, rodent or rabbit exposure, and residence in rural areas. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Results indicated that dogs with exposure to Y pestis can develop moderate to severe illness or die as a result of infection. Veterinarians practicing in and examining animals from the western United States need to be familiar with the epidemiology of plague and query owners about potential plague exposures when consistent clinical signs are present. Veterinarians are often the first to recognize signs of plague among sentinel populations and have the opportunity to intervene and prevent zoonotic disease transmission.
This article was published in J Am Vet Med Assoc
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals