What Exactly Is Valley Fever? All Every Dog Owner Should Know About This Disease
If you happen to call the southwestern part of the United States home, there’s a good chance that you’ve already heard about this health problem that’s on the rise right now. To protect your dog, here is the information you need to know.
It’s likely that, as the devoted owner of a dog, you have a good understanding of the various diseases and conditions that could potentially impact your pet’s health.
But as of recently, pet owners in the southwestern region of the United States have been advised to be on the watch for a sickness known as valley fever in their dogs.
Valley fever is a disease that can affect dogs, and we spoke with a veterinarian to find out everything that dog owners ought to know about it.
This includes how the disease is spread, whether or not it is contagious, how it can be helped prevented, and what the best treatment options are if your precious pup does contract the disease.
What Does It Mean When A Dog Has Valley Fever?
Coccidioides fungus is the culprit behind valley fever, a condition that affects canines and is also known as desert rheumatism.
“This disease is spread by breathing in the spores which are endemic to a large portion of the southwestern United States and Northern Mexico,” explains Evelyn Kass, DVM, a veterinarian based in Phoenix, Arizona.
“This disease is spread by breathing in the spores which are endemic to a large portion of the southwestern United States and Northern Mexico.”
Coccidioidomycosis, or more commonly just “cocci,” is the term used in the medical field to refer to valley fever.
According to the University of Arizona Health Sciences, the sickness caused by coccidioides was given the term “valley fever” because it was first detected in the San Joaquin Valley of California.
How Can A Dog Become Infected With Valley Fever?
The soil is the vector for the transmission of valley fever. The fungus is released into the air whenever the soil is disturbed, and your dog is then able to breathe in the fungus.
According to Kass, “We commonly find an upswing in infections in regions of construction,”, particularly in places where new home developments are being built or where road expansion is being done.
“Naturally, dust storms have a significant influence, and rain has the potential to further encourage the spread of the fungus. Dogs that enjoy digging in the sand will find themselves in a more vulnerable position in the desert.”
Is It Possible For Dogs To Catch Valley Fever?
According to the opinions of those trained in the field, valley fever is not infectious from one animal to another.
Instead, the fungal infection is transmitted from one person to another by direct contact with the soil. Inhaling the spores that have been produced can cause valley fever in a variety of animals, including humans, dogs, and cats.
Where Exactly May One Get Valley Fever?
The southwestern region of the United States is the primary area that is impacted by valley fever. According to Kass, the states of Arizona and California appear to be hot places for the disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that valley fever has also been discovered in the south-central part of the state of Washington and that the disease may exist in other areas that are likewise hot and dry.
According to Kass, “Infection seems to peak between June and September, with a second peak being seen occasionally in the fall.”
What Signs And Symptoms Does Valley Fever Show In Dogs?
Generally speaking, it takes around three weeks for dogs who have been exposed to the Coccidioides fungus to start showing symptoms of the disease.
According to research conducted by the University of Arizona, some of the most prevalent and early symptoms of primary valley fever in dogs are as follows:
- Poor appetite
- Loss of weight
Kass points out that the majority of dogs will be able to fight off the infection at this point, but the fungus can “disseminate,” which means spread, to any area of the body or organ in certain dogs.
(The medical term for this condition is known as disseminated valley fever.) She continues, “The symptoms change depending on where the organism is located.
In addition to fever, lameness, and cough, other symptoms such as epileptic convulsions, heart disease, and skin abscesses may also appear.”
A painful sore that may ooze, enlarged lymph nodes, inflammation of the eye, and pain are some more symptoms. Your dog’s health may be in jeopardy if they contract either the main or disseminated form of valley fever.
If you have any reason to believe that your dog may be infected, you should make an appointment with a veterinarian as soon as possible.
How To Treat Dogs Afflicted With Valley Fever
According to research conducted by the University of Arizona, the probability of survival for dogs diagnosed with Valley fever is greater than 90 percent.
Anti-fungal medications, like fluconazole, itraconazole, and ketoconazole, are the traditional treatment for canine valley fever. These medications help eradicate the fungus from your dog’s body by suppressing the immune system.
Kass notes that although these treatments are often quite effective, they frequently have to be taken for years to prevent the recurrence of indications.
This therapy period typically lasts between six and twelve months, but it sometimes lasts for the rest of the patient’s life.
To treat the symptoms of valley fever, in addition to treating the fungus that is causing the illness, your veterinarian may also offer fluids, drugs to reduce inflammation and pain, painkillers, or nutritional supplements.
Preventing Valley Fever In Dogs
The most effective strategy to protect your dog from contracting valley fever is to limit the amount of dust they are exposed to in the air.
This includes bringing your pet inside during dust storms and when it’s raining, keeping them on paved walkways as opposed to dirt when possible, diverting their attention when they want to dig, and maintaining grass (or artificial grass) in the yard.
Kass emphasizes the importance of taking preventative measures to protect your pet as best you can now, even though there is some promising evidence from a recent vaccine trial at the University of Arizona that gives hope for a valley fever vaccine for dogs in the near future.
This evidence gives hope for a valley fever vaccine for dogs. Kass goes on to say that even though research on vaccines has been going on for decades, there is still no vaccination available to prevent valley fever.
Providing their immune systems with natural support can be of assistance. You should give your dog a diet that is nutritionally complete and plenty of water to drink.
In addition to physical activity, providing cerebral stimulation and loving cuddles can go a long way toward supporting the overall health of your pet.
Questions People Also Ask: (FAQs)
Does A Dog Who Has Valley Fever Recover?
A few dogs will pass away from valley fever, mainly those that have disseminated disease. But the majority of dogs that receive the right care will recover from this condition.
To decide when the antifungal treatment can be stopped, your veterinarian will conduct the antibody titer test again regularly.
How May Dogs With Valley Fever Be Treated?
The typical therapy for valley fever involves oral antifungal medication taken twice daily in the form of pills or capsules. Three typical drugs are used to treat canine valley fever: Itraconazole Fluconazole (Diflucan) (Sporanox)
Can Dogs Infect Humans With Valley Fever?
Dogs cannot transmit valley fever to other dogs or from dogs to humans. The illness arises from inhaling the fungus spores.
How Long Does Valley Fever Last In Dogs?
Similar to lung infections, the majority of dogs with disseminated disease react well to treatment and lead normal lives, albeit they frequently necessitate protracted pharmacological therapy (12-18 months).
Canine Valley Fever Spread To Other Canines?
Is animal-to-animal or animal-to-human transmission of valley fever possible? It’s believed that valley fever is a non-contagious illness.
Even if several animals or people are afflicted in the same household, each infection was brought on by breathing in soil spores. It cannot be passed between individuals by coughing.
Is It Costly To Cure Canine Valley Fever?
Fluconazole, a drug used to treat valley fever, has lately increased in price from $20 per month to as much as $200.
Does Valley Fever Ever Leave By Itself?
Many people’s Valley fever symptoms will disappear on their own in a few months without any medical intervention. Some patients receive antifungal prescriptions from their doctors to lessen the intensity of their symptoms or stop the infection from getting worse.
What Should A Canine With Valley Fever Be Fed?
With Valley Fever, some dogs still manage to eat somewhat, while others completely avoid food. These patients require additional nutritional care, such as the hand-feeding of extremely appetizing food (such as cooked meats), the insertion of a feeding tube, or the use of drugs to treat nausea and vomiting or increase appetite.
What Can I Do To Eradicate Valley Fever From My Yard?
How can I rid my yard of the fungus that causes Valley fever? The spores of Coccidioides are minute, which makes it difficult to detect or remove them from your yard. If you reside in a region where the fungus thrives, valley fever can be difficult to prevent.
How Can Dogs Be Tested For Valley Fever?
Your veterinarian will likely recommend diagnostic testing in addition to inspecting your dog to assist pinpoint the Valley Fever infection.
Common tests include:
- A blood test for valley fever (also called cocci test, cocci serology, or cocci titer)
- Blood cell counts and common blood tests.
- Chest radiographs
- Joint and bone x-rays.
In Which States Can You Find Valley Fever?
A person contracting valley fever inhales the spores of specific fungi. Coccidioides immitis or Coccidioides posadasii, the fungus that causes valley fever, is found in the soil in some areas of Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, California, Texas, and Washington. It bears the name of California’s San Joaquin Valley.
How Can I Check For Valley Fever On My Dog?
Medical professionals most frequently check for Valley fever by drawing blood and sending it to a lab to check for Coccidioides antibodies or antigens. To check for Valley fever pneumonia, doctors may perform imaging tests such as chest X-rays or lung CT scans.
What Does Rash Valley Fever Really Look Like?
Rashes brought on by valley fever can take many distinct forms. Common symptoms include unpleasant or tender, slightly elevated red nodules or bumps that may turn bluish or brown in hue. These symptoms typically affect the legs, but they can also affect the chest, arms, and back.
Is Bleeding From The Nose A Sign Of Valley Fever?
A tiny fraction of RVF patients—less than 1%—develop hemorrhagic fever. The first indicators of hemorrhaging may include jaundice and other indications of liver damage, which may be followed by bloody stools, vomiting blood, or bleeding gums, skin, nose, or injection sites. These symptoms start to show 2-4 days after the sickness starts.
Does Canine Valley Fever Result In Seizures?
Valley Fever can cause seizures in a small percentage of really severe cases when the fungus infects the brain. To prevent significant health issues, it’s critical to seek veterinary care as soon as your dog exhibits symptoms of valley fever.
Does Rash Accompany Valley Fever Always?
Low-grade valley fever
Fever and chills, a cough, headache, weariness, joint, and muscle discomfort, and on rare occasions, a red rash all over the body are some of the symptoms. Valley fever can occasionally be accompanied by a rash that mostly affects the lower legs, but can also show up on the chest, arms, and back.
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