Pseudorabies (also called "Aujeszky’s disease") is an acute, frequently fatal disease caused by Pseudorabies virus (PRV), which belongs to the genus Varicellovirus, in the Alphaherpesvirinae subfamily of the Herpesviridae. Pigs are the only natural hosts for PRV, although the virus can infect numerous other mammals including ruminants, carnivores and rodents. Despite the tremendous progress that has been made in controlling and eliminating PRV in domestic pigs, there is mounting evidence that PRV infections are more widespread in wild swine across the world than originally thought.
The United States obtained PRV-free status in 2004 after the virus was eradicated from domestic swineherds, but the virus is still present in feral swine populations and should therefore continue to be considered a possible cause of disease in dogs and other domestic animals. Once an area is determined to be positive for virus, it will be perpetually positive. Pseudorabies has also been documented in black bears and brown bears. It is believed that dogs (both farm dogs and companion dogs), can be infected with this virus by consuming contaminated raw pork or offal. Contact with contaminated garbage or food through an injured alimentary tract is also a possible route of infection in dogs. Injuries acquired while chewing something hard may increase the susceptibility of dogs to infection when they are exposed to a PRV-contaminated environment.
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This virus rarely causes disease in dogs but has been associated with meningoencephalitis, primarily in dogs on farms during outbreaks, or in boar-hunting dogs that eat infected pig meat. The clinical signs are facial itching, difficulty breathing, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, swelling, poor movement coordination, and muscle spasms. Unusual signs have been observed in dogs such as drooping ear and the head bent to one side. However, it is not unusual for some dogs to die suddenly without showing any of the typical symptoms.
Pseudorabies can be prevented by cooking pork by-products fed to dogs and cats, preventing contact betweeb infected swine and dogs where the disease is present, and possibly through control of rodents.
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