AHS Vets on Pets: Dr. Melissa Thompson on Monsoon Safety and Valley Fever in Dogs
Monsoon Season Brings With It Unpredictable Weather Patterns and Unique Dangers, Such as Valley Fever.
Dr. Melissa Thompson, the Supervising Veterinarian at AHS’ Second Chance Animal Trauma Hospital™, has seen many dogs who have been diagnosed with the treatable, yet incurable, Valley Fever. As Monsoon Season is notorious for swirling dust in the air, it is especially common for dogs to be diagnosed with this disease.
Pets left outside are more prone to Valley Fever, an airborne fungus that can lead to a lung infection and an intense course of treatment. Valley Fever is a soil-dwelling fungus that survive in desert climates and is very prevalent in certain parts of Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, northwestern Mexico and parts of Central and South America. While the disease is common in humans, dogs (especially puppies, elderly dogs, and those with a weaker immune system) are more susceptible to Valley Fever, likely due to the fact that they sniff the dirt as well as play and dig in the dirt, potentially inhaling large numbers of spores at a time.
Valley Fever Symptoms:
- Harsh, dry cough
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargic or depressed
- Lameness or swelling in bones/joints
- Seizures (in severe cases)
- Titer test to determine whether your dog has Valley Fever antibodies
- Blood tests
- X-rays of the chest/limbs
- Antifungal medications (duration depends on severity of infection)
- Periodic blood tests to monitor liver function and to check the titer
- Repeat x-rays may be necessary if there were significant lung or bone changes caused by the disease
- Dogs can often overcome Valley Fever or live with it throughout their lives, and in rare cases they may pass away due to the illness.
Currently, AHS and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), a world leader in disease research, have forged a partnership to help advance pet health through a study called Valley Fever P.A.W.S. (Prevention, Awareness, Working for Solutions), which seeks new treatments for dogs with Valley Fever, a dust-born disease that is endemic in the deserts of central and southern Arizona. This research could help both pets and people living with Valley Fever.
If you are a dog owner, please consider signing your pet up, whether they have Valley Fever or not, for the study as we need as much drool as possible to help advance what we know about this disease.
Dr. Melissa Thompson can be found saving lives in the Second Chance Animal Trauma Hospital. She is a graduate of Western University of Health Sciences and is especially interested in trauma medicine and reducing pet overpopulation. Of her work, Dr. Thompson says, “I enjoy the challenge of both shelter and trauma medicine found in Second Chance. I love being able to provide pets with the care they deserve, in their greatest time of need.”