Canine Respiratory Disease: NH Diagnostic Lab Update


From University of New Hampshire

New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

Respiratory Syndrome of Unknown Etiology in Dogs

2022-3 in New England: Diagnostic Investigation

We recently concluded sequencing on an additional group of animals bringing the total to 31 dogs with the shared clinical syndrome. With deeper sequencing, paired with rigorous bioinformatic analysis and literature review, 21 of 31 samples were found to have segments of DNA that are predicted to belong to a likely non-culturable bacterium that is most similar to a pathogen reported in association with respiratory disease in people in 2021 ( The bacteria from the human report, tentatively named IOLA KY405, has a minute and AT-rich genome, and is phylogenetically quite distinct from most well-characterized bacteria in people (and dogs). These types of bacteria have been minimally studied and are not well characterized.

The NHVDL and the Hubbard Center for Genome Studies (HCGS) at UNH have preliminary findings in the diagnostic investigation regarding the recent atypical respiratory syndrome in dogs. We believe that we have identified a potential candidate etiologic agent in this syndrome.

Clinically the cases present similarly to kennel cough, and seem to be refractory to standard medical treatment, as well as often being negative on syndromic canine respiratory disease PCR testing. Cases commonly have a long course of illness, with some progression to pneumonia. There have been anecdotal reports of mortalities, however submissions of carcasses or excised lung tissue have been minimal, as have respiratory culture submissions.   

Molecular and analytic work began at the NHVDL and HCGS in early December, 2022, with an initial pilot of seven clinical samples and one non-clinical control. This early work did not reveal any RNA or DNA virus of concern, and no primary fungal or bacterial respiratory pathogens were identified. After these initial work, continued sequencing, bioinformatic analyses, and sample collection was continued.

To read the full report, learn about next steps, and how to arrange submissions, click here.