‘Funky Bacterium’ believed to be cause behind U.S. dog health crisis

Funky Bacterium
Credits: Representational Image

A recent study suggests that a new type of bacteria, described as “funky bacterium”, might be responsible for a mysterious respiratory disease afflicting dogs nationwide, potentially causing fatalities and widespread illness among thousands of canines in the U.S.

Dogs affected by this mysterious illness have exhibited symptoms such as coughing, runny eyes, sneezing, and lethargy, as per NBC News. It is important to note that the illness doesn’t get better with antibiotics.

‘It’s a weird bacterium’

Researchers from the University of New Hampshire have identified the bacteria by examining samples from 70 dogs displaying symptoms of the disease over the last two years. Dr. David Needle, the pathology section chief at the University of New Hampshire, characterized the pathogen as a “funky bacterium.”

Elaborating, he told NBC News, “It’s smaller than a normal bacterium in its size and in the size of its genome Long story short, it’s a weird bacterium that can be tough to find and sequence.” Needle added that The germ “is new as a potential cause of disease, but it is likely to be — or to have evolved from — a component of the dog microbiome.”

He continued, “After initial sequencing showed there were no known viral, bacterial or fungal pathogens, time consuming and dogged work by graduate student Lawrence Gordon showed that 21 of the initial 30 samples from New Hampshire had some genetic material from one atypical bacterial species.”

Scientists are not certain about the bacterium causing the diseases

Scientists are uncertain whether the same bacterium is causing the widespread illness in U.S. dogs, as per NBC News. CBS News has also reported cases in Oregon and Colorado, with the Oregon Agriculture Department receiving over 200 reports since August.

Veterinarian Dr. Sarah Marpet described the symptoms as “It’s a harsh, repetitive cough, usually worse in morning and evening or just getting up with exercise.”