Certain breeds seem to be more susceptible than others to the disseminated form, and male dogs are more prone to it than females. Research into a vaccine that will protect both humans and animals from valley fever is in progress, and at the Valley Fever Center for Excellence in Tucson, Ariz., scientists are attempting to determine the natural incidence of the disease among dogs in that region. It appears hopeful that we will be able to control just how much this fungus remains among us. And then we can all get back to worrying about which tocopherols to sprinkle on our dogs’ food in the morning.
If you suspect that your pet may have valley fever, veterinary attention is crucial. A veterinarian versed in this regional disease should be able to help you navigate the right treatment path, which may vary according to severity of the case. Note: Valley fever is not contagious from dog to dog, or from dogs to people (or vice versa).
• Coughing • Fever
• Weight loss
• Lack of appetite
• Lack of energy
• Lameness or swelling of limbs
• Back or neck pain
• Seizures and other manifestations of central nervous system swelling
• Soft swellings under the skin that resemble abscesses
• Swollen lymph nodes under the chin, in front of the shoulder blades, or behind the stifles
• Non-healing skin ulcerations or draining tracts that ooze fluid
• Eye inflammation with pain or cloudiness
Shannon Fitzgerald is a toxicologist by training and a canophile by choice; a native of New England, she now lives in North Carolina.