infectious canine hepatitis

infectious canine hepatitis

infectious canine hepatitis, acute viral disease of canines, especially dogs and foxes. The causative agent, an adenovirus, is not infectious to humans. In foxes the disease is manifested primarily as encephalitis. Transmission occurs mainly by direct contact with infected animals. The virus can be passed through the urine for periods of up to one year. Dogs of any age are susceptible to the disease. The incubation period is from six to nine days, and the signs are fever, loss of appetite, congested mucous membranes, and pain in the region of the liver. Mortality is about 10%, and about 25% of the survivors develop a temporary corneal opacity (hepatitis blue eye). Treatment consists of the administration of intravenous fluids, antibiotics, and vitamins. Recent reports indicate that chronic infection may occur, leading to cirrhosis of the liver. Annual vaccination with a modified live virus will give permanent prevention.
Infectious canine hepatitis is an acute liver infection in dogs caused by canine adenovirus type-1 (CAV-1). CAV-1 also causes disease in wolves, coyotes, and bears, and encephalitis in foxes. The virus is spread in the feces, urine, blood, saliva, and nasal discharge of infected dogs. It is contracted through the mouth or nose, where it replicates in the tonsils. The virus then infects the liver and kidneys. The incubation period is 4 to 7 days.

Symptoms include fever, depression, loss of appetite, coughing, and a tender abdomen. Corneal edema and signs of liver disease, such as jaundice, vomiting, and hepatic encephalopathy, may also occur. Severe cases will develop bleeding disorders, which can cause hematomas to form in the mouth. Death can occur secondary to this or the liver disease. However, most dogs recover after a brief illness, although chronic corneal edema and kidney lesions may persist.

Diagnosis is made by recognizing the combination of symptoms and abnormal blood tests that occur in infectious canine hepatitis. A rising antibody titer to CAV-1 is also seen. The disease can be confused with canine parvovirus because both will cause a low white blood cell count and bloody diarrhea in young, unvaccinated dogs.

Treatment is for the symptoms. Most dogs recover spontaneously without treatment. Prevention is through vaccination. Most combination vaccines for dogs contain a modified canine adenovirus type-2. CAV-2 is one of the causes of respiratory infections in dogs, but it is similar enough to CAV-1 that vaccine for one creates immunity for both. CAV-2 vaccine is much less likely to cause side effects than CAV-1 vaccine. One study has shown the vaccine to have a duration of immunity of at least four years.

CAV-1 is destroyed in the environment by steam cleaning and quaternary ammonium compounds. Otherwise, the virus can survive in the environment for months in the right conditions. It can also be released in the urine of a recovered dog for up to a year.

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