‘Kennel cough’ likely culprit in Gwinnett animal shelter quarantine

The Gwinnett County Animal Shelter is moving operations to its former location and testing all quarantined dogs after new results identified the mystery illness that killed one canine as “kennel cough.”

Gwinnett’s regular animal shelter on Winder Highway was closed and quarantined on April 10 after one dog died and at least five more were reported ill with an unknown sickness. On Monday, officials reported that the illness affecting the deceased dog had been deemed pneumonia, and that a total of 23 dogs were exhibiting symptoms.

Testing on a new sample from the deceased dog, however, “resulted in the isolation and identification of Bordetella bronchiseptica,” Gwinnett County police spokeswoman Cpl. Michele Pihera said Thursday.

Bordetella, more commonly known as kennel cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. Tests are being performed on all of the shelter’s quarantined dogs to confirm they are suffering from the illness.

“It has been decided that the shelter will remain under voluntary quarantine through April 25,” Pihera said, “and (antibiotic) Doxycycline will continue to be given to all the dogs at the shelter.”

Veterinarians with the University of Georgia, Cornell University, the University of Florida, and Merck Animal Sciences have all consulted with Dr. Solveig Evans, the shelter’s medical director, throughout the process, Pihera said.

Once the voluntary quarantine has ended, every dog at the shelter will be sent to a rescue group. After that takes place, Pihera said, shelter staff will clean and sterilize the facility before it is reopened on an heretofore undetermined date.

In the meantime, the animal shelter will move daily operations to its former home on Lawrenceville’s Hi Hope Road. Stray animals will be accepted starting Saturday, and animal adoptions will be available during normal hours.

There are currently 10 dogs at the temporary location, Pihera said.

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