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Veterinary Public Health

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Veterinary Public Health Program
313 N Figueroa St. Rm 1127
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel (213) 989-7060
Tel: (877) 747-2243
Fax (213) 481-2375
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Update on Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis and
Watery Diarrhea in Dogs
(posted 2/13/09)

As of 2/12/09, veterinarians at 13 veterinary practices have reported 99 cases of either bloody or watery diarrhea in dogs since January 1, 2009.  Of these cases, 82 also had vomiting. Half of the cases recover within five days and half take longer to recover or have a waxing and waning disease course.  At least 29 cases required intravenous fluid treatment, while others required less intensive care.  Most cases were treated by veterinarians with antibiotics and anti-nausea or anti-vomiting drugs. 

Los Angeles County has an estimated 1.9 million dogs, so this outbreak is affecting a very small proportion of the population.

Outbreaks of bloody diarrhea in dogs were reported  in four out of the five past winters in Los Angeles County, suggesting that seasonality may play a role. There is NO evidence thus far to link this to the peanut-butter paste Salmonella outbreak. Thus far, salmonella cultures have been reported on 12 dogs and all were negative.  Tests for several other infectious agents are also being performed, and have not yet revealed a clear answer.  There is no evidence that any food contamination is playing a role, because the dogs have all been eating a wide variety of foods.

In the majority of cases (89.5%), no other pet in the house was reported to have the same illness, so this condition does not appear to spread easily from dog to dog.  This condition also does NOT appear to spread from dogs to people.

So far, most cases are being reported from the San Fernando Valley area, with sporadic cases being reported from around the county.  Veterinarians are encouraged to continue reporting in order to help better track patterns that may reveal a cause.

Canine Diarrhea and HGE Case Reporting Form pdf icon

Printable version of update




Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE) and Watery Diarrhea Outbreak in Dogs
(Posted 2/5/09)

Since January 21, 2009, Veterinary Public Health has received reports from several veterinary clinics that they were seeing an increasing number of dogs with watery and bloody diarrhea.  As of January 30th, 2009, 53  official reports have been received, with an estimated 120 or more cases being seen at four veterinary clinics in the San Fernando Valley since January 1st.     

The first 29 case reports were reviewed.  The primary symptoms have been diarrhea (96.6 %) and vomiting (75.9%), with about half having bloody stool.  Recovery rate has been variable, with about 20% having a waxing and waning of symptoms.  The average age was 5 years, with a range of 2 months to 13 years.  About half were small breed dogs. 

Locally, increases in Canine Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE) have been report during the winters of 2004, 2005 and 2006.  Veterinary Public Health gathered reports and tested many stool samples during previous outbreaks, but was not able to identify a definitive cause.  With the clustering of reported cases, it is suspected that a contagious infection or food contamination may be causing these illnesses.  Preliminary investigation of these cases, and similar cases from previous years, has not yielded any definitive evidence of bacterial or viral infection.  Studies are on-going, but there is no evidence to date that this outbreak is linked to the current Salmonella outbreak in people.  

Veterinarians who see potential cases of HGE are requested to complete the attached “Canine Diarrhea and HGE Report Form” and fax it, along with relevant laboratory reports, to our office (fax# 562-401-7112).   Please let us know if we can contact the dog owner to obtain additional information if needed.  We may contact you about submitting stool specimens, as we attempt to determine the cause of the outbreak.   

Many thanks to Dr. George Cuellar of the Southern California Veterinary Hospital and Dr. Nada Khalaf of VCA McClave Animal Hospital for reporting this outbreak.  Participation by local veterinarians is essential to make our local animal disease surveillance effective, and such reports are a value to the entire animal health community.    

2009 Canine Diarrhea and Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis Information Sheet pdf icon
2009 Canine Diarrhea and HGE Case Reporting Form pdf icon





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