Tuberculosis in Dogs

Tuberculosis in dogs is a bacterial disease resulting from infections by different species of Mycobacterium. Almost all vertebrates are susceptible to tuberculosis. This used to be a major health issue in domestic animals as well as in people before the disease was brought under control by antibiotic therapies and preventive measures. Mainly three different kinds of bacilli are responsible for the disease. The bacterium Mycobacterium tuber-culosis is considered the infective agent of human tuberculosis, Mycobacterium bovis is for cattle and Mycobacterium avium for birds. But any of them can affect other animals too. Of these, the two mammalian kinds are very similar to each other. The disease gets transmitted mainly through the respiratory route when the infectious fluid droplets coming out of the nasal and oral cavities of one animal are inhaled by another. However, ingestion of contaminated items of food, especially milk, can result in tuberculosis infection. Pasteurization of milk and canned meat products have helped reduce the spread of disease to a great extent. Infections are usually asymptomatic in dogs and other members of the canine family as they are generally resistant to these bacteria. But occasionally infections happen, with the dogs displaying respiratory distress such as shallow breathing and chronic cough. Low-grade fever and lack of appetite are common. Affected dogs become lethargic and become progressively weaker. Appearance of lesions is another sign. The risk of the infection being transmitted from dogs to humans is very high. The veterinarian may advice on the course of action with regard to an infected dog. Euthanasia is preferred in cases of advanced disease, especially if lesions are present. This is in view of the public health risk it poses.

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