Veterinary Public Health

Pet Health Calendar
Contact Information
Veterinary Public Health Program
313 N Figueroa St. Rm 1127
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel (213) 288-7060
Fax (213) 481-2375
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Salmon Poisoning Disease
What is Salmon Poisoning Disease (SPD)?
SPD is a disease that makes dogs severely ill. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, enlarged lymph nodes, physical collapse and death. Dogs with SPD need to be treated by a veterinarian. Illness usually starts about 5-7 days after the dog eats or licks an infected fish.

Despite its name, SPD is not caused by a poison. It is caused by a combination of a bacteria (Neorickettsia)and a parasite (Nanophyetus). Dogs can catch the illness very easily when they eat raw or undercooked salmon or trout. The infection is present in all parts of the infected fish, including the slime layer on the surface; one dog in LA County caught the disease after licking the ground where water had dripped off of an infected  trout.  This disease is most common in the Pacific Northwest area of the United States.

Dog licking a fish
Have there been any cases of SPD in dogs in Los Angeles County?
Since 2006, 16 dogs in Los Angeles County became severely ill from SPD. Most became infected after eating or licking parts of raw trout. The trout had been transported to LA County from the Pacific Northwest for sport fishing. In 2017, one dog became infected after eating raw salmon from a local grocery store. Two of 16 cases reported in LA County died. The others received intensive treatment and survived.

Do people get SPD?
Humans can get infected with the parasite (Nanophyetus) only if they eat raw fish, or if they do not practice good sanitation in preparing fish. When humans are infected, they experience mostly mild diarrhea. Safe and sanitary fish handling prevents this problem.

What should I do?
  • REMEMBER – Dogs can smell fish that have been buried to use as fertilizer! Keep dogs away from buried fish!
  • Fisherman should always use excellent sanitation when cleaning and preparing fish.
  • If your dog has eaten raw fish caught from a local lake and becomes ill, mention the fish to your veterinarian.

More information
Printable version of this page. pdf icon       En Español pdf icon
2007 Alert about local Salmon Poisoning Disease pdf icon

Last updated: September 28, 2017
Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.
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