Medical Research

published : 2023-11-27

California Couple Claims Eye Antibiotic Cured Dog of Mysterious Illness Sweeping America

Dog's condition improved after receiving the drug and owners were able to take him home from the vet

A golden retriever, similar to Ike, lying down with tubes inserted into his snout and a cone around his head. (Taken with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV)

A cure to a mysterious and potentially deadly respiratory condition that has been spreading in dogs throughout the country may have been found with a California couple who claim their canine is on the road to recovery after he received a lifesaving antibiotic.

John and Becky Oliver say their dog was on death’s door with the disease – known as Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC), which starts off as a cough and can develop into potentially deadly pneumonia-like symptoms. The illness had been thought to be resistant to traditional antibiotic treatments.

The couple say their dog, an award-winning golden retriever called Ike, contracted CIRDC while competing in dog shows in September and was immediately quarantined behind glass when he was brought to a veterinarian. Photos posted online show the dog lying down with tubes inserted into his snout and a cone around his head.

More than 200 dogs in the U.S. have fallen ill with a mysterious respiratory illness that can sometimes develop into pneumonia and appears to be resistant to antibiotic treatments.

The veterinarians were stumped as to what was wrong with the Olivers' prized pet, who has ranked among the top five golden retrievers in U.S. shows.

"They had given up, and (Ike) was starting to give up," Becky Oliver told ABC.

"He couldn't go in the room with them, no other dogs were in there with him, so that's how contagious this is," John Oliver added.

A veterinarian conducting tests on a dog to determine the cause of a mysterious respiratory illness. (Taken with Nikon D850)

After multiple tests, vets determined Ike was infected with CIRDC.

The Olivers took to Facebook to tell their friends about Ike’s worsening condition, and they were then contacted by a stranger who advised them to try chloramphenicol – an antibiotic used as an eye ointment to treat human conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye.

After giving Ike the drug, his condition eventually improved and the Olivers were able to take him home from the vet.

"The vet hospital called to say Ike was off of oxygen support and was ready to come home! Hearing he could come home was like a dream," Becky wrote on Facebook, according to the Daily Mail.

"Ike has been doing pretty good since he has been home. He is, however very, very thin and weak. His appetite is very good and he has been doing his normal things with lots of rest in between."

She warned that chloramphenicol is a powerful drug, but it seemed to have worked.

Chloramphenicol is "a very, very strong last-resort antibiotic, but it's what saved him. Otherwise, he would not be here," she wrote.

A group of dogs playing at a dog park, highlighting the importance of being cautious in such environments. (Taken with Sony Alpha a7 III)

The news that the drug worked effectively in Ike will provide hope for other dog owners whose pets may have come down with the mysterious illness.

Cases of the condition in dogs have appeared in Oregon, Indiana, Illinois, Washington, Idaho, California, Nevada, and throughout the Northeast as veterinarians scramble to determine how to treat it.

Although the American Veterinary Medical Association told "Today" they are monitoring cases of the condition in other states, it is unclear how many pets have suffered nationwide.

Since mid-August, the Oregon Department of Agriculture has received over 200 reports of the unidentified condition, per a Nov. 9 press release.

A research lab in New Hampshire says it has been studying the illness since 2022.

Dr. Lindsay Ganzer, a veterinarian at North Springs Veterinary Referral Center in Colorado Springs, told "Today" that dogs are most likely to contract the condition by being in close contact with numerous other dogs at daycare, groomers, boarding kennels, and dog parks.