Published: 21 Jun 2016 | Last Updated: 21 Jun 2016 09:43:23

Dr Simon Priestnall, Dr Judy Mitchell, Dr Jackie Cardwell and Louise Allum have been awarded a PhD studentship by the Dogs Trust on "Improved diagnosis and epidemiological understanding of CIRD in dogs"

Canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD), or ‘kennel cough’ is one of the most common diseases affecting the health and welfare of dogs, particularly those housed in rehoming shelters. It causes significant discomfort and distress for affected dogs, with obvious associated welfare concerns. In addition, infections, often occurring as outbreaks, can significantly disrupt training (e.g. guide dogs) or rehoming schedules, and result in substantial financial costs for veterinary treatments, and challenges with rehoming infected dogs.  

Management strategies for preventing or controlling disease are based largely on assumptions about the viral or bacterial infections involved, and are rarely underpinned by a thorough knowledge and understanding of the currently circulating infectious agents, or the factors that increase the risk of infection or severe illness. Previous work by this group and others has shown that a large number of existing and novel viruses and bacteria are involved in CIRD outbreaks. This study aims to expand our knowledge and understanding of this important multifactorial problem to benefit canine welfare through improved prevention, treatment and control strategies.  

Key objectives from this study will be to: 

  • Develop rapid multi-agent diagnostic tests targeting the full spectrum of pathogens associated with CIRD (CRCoV, CPIV, CnPnV, CIV, CAV-2, CHV, Bb, M. cynos).
  • Identify key shelter-level risk factors for increasing CIRD incidence.
  • Estimate the prevalence of different pathogens in CIRD-affected shelter dogs by screening respiratory swabs using the newly developed assays.
  • Identify key dog-level risk factors for specific infections and increasing disease severity.
  • Characterise veterinary perceptions, knowledge and current practices relating to CIRD prevention, treatment and management.

The aim of the study will be: 

  • Improved diagnostics and understanding of the role of different infections in CIRD.
  • Improved prevention, treatment and management strategies based on this improved understanding and the identification of modifiable risk factors.
  • Improved knowledge-exchange between researchers and clinicians, maximising the impact of research and facilitating evidence-based clinical practice.

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