MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade Animal Services is urging dog owners to keep a watch on their pets out in public as a new highly contagious disease spreads across South Florida.
It’s called Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC).
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“Canine infectious respiratory disease complex is like a canine flu or canine cold. It’s multiple viruses that affect the respiratory tract and causes respiratory symptoms. Sneezing, coughing, and hacking,” said Dr. Maria Serrano, a veterinarian at Animal Services.
Animal Services said there have been many cases of CIRDC reported throughout South Florida. They urge dog owners to help protect their pets by keeping them current on routine vaccines and away from places with multiple dogs.
“Stay away from places that have dogs conglomerating. So dog parks, groomers, just anywhere where there’s a lot of dogs together. Also, avoid nose to nose contact between dogs,” said Serrano.
To protect the pets in its shelter, Animal Services is temporarily suspending the following services until further notice for their dogs.
- Wellness Clinic – Spay/Neuter surgeries, vaccinations, microchipping
- Receiving – Owner surrender
- Offsite pet adoption events
The virus is spread by direct contact with an infected dog and by contact with people who have been exposed to the virus. The virus can be carried on people’s clothing, hands, and on items such as food/water bowls, collars/leashes, toys, and bedding.
However, it is easily killed by most disinfectants, handwashing with soap and water, normal laundering of clothing, and washing bowls and toys with soap and water.
At Trails and Tails Park in Doral, some dog owners said they’ve never heard of CIRDC.
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“No, I haven’t heard about it. It’s the first time I’m hearing about it,” said Giavoni Tardencilla.
When asked if he was concerned about it, he replied, “not really. This is the third time I’ve brought them to this park. I walk him at home but it doesn’t really concern me.”
Ximena Aponte also had little concern.
“We exercise, we eat right, above all the Lord will protect us,” said Aponte. “He’s not around many dogs. He’s always around the neighbors’ dogs and these dogs, but not that many dogs are around.”
Dr. Serrano said the virus passes through droplets in the air and is highly contagious. She said dog owners should treat it like COVID, keep a safe distance from other dogs because it has the potential to be dangerous.
“It can progress to something more serious, pneumonia, fever, lethargy, not eating,” she said.
If your dog starts to present with symptoms, get to your vet because there is a treatment. Your dog can be put on a regimen of antibiotics. The incubation period is three and 10 days. If infected, it can last two weeks to a month.
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Humans and cats can’t catch the virus.