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Pseudorabies (Aujeszky's Disease) in Dogs

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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Pseudorabies is a highly fatal viral disease caused by a herpes virus. Also referred to as Aujeszky's disease, this disease is usually associated with contact with swine (pigs) but can also be acquired by ingesting infected rats or eating contaminated, uncooked pork. For this reason, pseudorabies is more commonly seen in dogs that live on farms.

What to Watch For

  • Sudden change in behavior
  • Excessive salivation
  • Difficult or rapid breathing
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Ataxia (difficulty walking due to poor coordination)
  • Convulsions
  • Reluctance to move
  • Intense pruritis (itching)
  • Self mutilation
  • Coma
  • Sudden death

    This disease progresses rapidly, and death usually occurs within 48 hours.

    Diagnosis

    Compatible clinical signs and recent exposure to pigs is highly suggestive of pseudorabies infection. Baseline tests to include a complete blood count (CBC), biochemical profile, and urinalysis are recommended in all patients, and are often within normal limits. Additional tests may include:

  • Serologic testing. Blood tests that measure antibodies or the bodies response to an organism are the most frequent tests used to diagnose pseudorabies – if the animal recovers.

  • Antibody testing on brain tissue to test the body's microscopic response to an organism

  • Isolation of the viral organism

    Treatment

    There is no known effective treatment. Supportive care and prevention of self-injury is indicated. Death is the expected outcome.

    Home Care and Prevention

    There is mild potential for human infection. Take precautions when treating or handling infected dogs. Dog-to-dog transmission is unusual.

    Preventing pseudorabies is aimed at avoidance of contaminated swine. Also, avoiding ingestion of raw or contaminated pork and infected rats is highly recommended.

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