This mystery disease is spreading across the nation and proving to be fatal in some cases. Veterinarians, such as Dr. Noelle Herrera, are bringing awareness to the disease and advising dog owners to keep their dogs isolated this holiday season.

Dr. Herrera works at Columbia Veterinary Emergency Trauma and Specialty (CVETS), and she is warning pet owners to be aware of the differences that this disease portrays in comparison to others.

“The challenging part is that most owners and some veterinarians may initially think that it is the classic cold that dogs get, which we commonly call kennel cough but the difference between this disease is that it is a lot more contagious and tends to last several weeks longer,” Dr. Herrera states.

The symptoms of this mystery illness include:

  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sneezing
  • Eye/Nasal discharge
  • Lethargy

The disease is spreading across the country and 14 states have reported cases, including Florida and Georgia. Although it has not come to South Carolina yet, Dr. Herrera believes it will come soon.

“Especially with the holidays and having just gotten through Thanksgiving… I suspect in about 2 to 4 weeks that the chances of it moving into South Carolina are pretty high,” Dr. Herrera states.

And it is beginning to concern dog owners in South Carolina as well. Wels Donaldson owns two dogs, Dolce and Deluca, and she is beginning to worry about the safety of her pets.

“I can’t really do anything to prevent them because like I said, I’m in an apartment complex. I can’t keep them inside. So, I feel like I’m taking this one’s a little more difficult for me personally,” Donaldson states.

However, there are ways for dog owners to prevent their dogs from contracting this disease. Veterinarians recommend that people avoid areas of high dog traffic such as dog parks, grooming facilities, and boarding kennels. They also recommend that owners keep their dogs up to date on vaccinations. And luckily, veterinarian offices such as CVETS, are preparing their facilities in case this disease spreads in the upcoming weeks.