Thousands of people have joined a Facebook group to track reports of a respiratory illness among dogs that has been baffling veterinarians in states across the country, indicating the extent to which pet lovers are anxious to learn new information about the mysterious disease.
A public Facebook group called “2023 Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Tracking” had more than six thousand members as of Tuesday morning, with new members joining every few minutes, likely spurred by the wave of recent news coverage. Some are trading information about their pets’ symptoms or posting updates about their condition, while others are sharing details about where they live.
Colorado, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and especially Oregon are among the states where the illness has been reported, according to local media, with the latter state’s agriculture department reporting more than 200 cases in recent months. Officials in nearby states such as Washington are asking pet owners to remain vigilant.
The illness causes symptoms such as sneezing and coughing, along with eye discharge and lethargy, the Associated Press reported. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which is monitoring the disease’s spread, the following clinical presentations have been observed:
- “Chronic mild-moderate tracheobronchitis with a prolonged duration (6-8 weeks or longer) that is minimally or not responsive to antibiotics.”
- “Chronic pneumonia that is minimally or not responsive to antibiotics.”
- “Acute pneumonia that rapidly becomes severe and often leads to poor outcomes in as little as 24-36 hours.”
Some local municipalities are also seeking ways to monitor the illness. Los Angeles County’s Veterinary Public Health Program has created an online form where people can report suspected cases of the condition, referred to as “Atypical Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease,” or aCIRD.
Facebook is not the only platform users are turning to for new information about the dog illness. A number of Reddit forums have also been active over the last few days. The speed with which users are flocking to social media for answers in the lack of official case counts or data mirrors the early days of COVID, where memberships in online groups exploded as sufferers meticulously chronicled their individual symptoms and experiences, especially on Facebook.
The downside, of course, is that these forums can be rife with speculation, misinformation, and even old-fashioned trolling. Some users in the canine group, for instance, are already asking moderators to delete posts that are “blatantly anti-science.”