Salmon Poisoning Disease

Salmon poisoning disease (SPD) is a serious disease caused by bacteria of the species Neorickettsia helminthoeca. Dogs contract these bacteria by eating raw fish and amphibians of certain species. Common sources of Neorickettsia helminthoeca include salmon, trout and Pacific giant salamanders. SPD is exclusive to canines and typically occurs in pets in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. Cats are not susceptible to this pet disease.

Salmon Poisoning Disease

How it Affects your pet

SPD is a complex disease. It occurs when dogs eat fish or amphibians infected with the flukeNanophyetus salmincola. On its own, this fluke is relatively harmless. To cause SPD, the fluke must be infected with Neorickettsia helminthoeca. After pets eat the flesh of a contaminated fish or amphibian, the flukes from the raw meat attach to the walls of the dog’s intestine, and the infected flukes release bacteria. These bacteria cause disruptions within the gastrointestinal tract and spread through the blood to the liver, lungs, brain and other organs. Symptoms usually begin five to seven days after a dog eats infected fish or amphibian meat. In some cases, however, dogs can develop symptoms more than a month after eating contaminated meat. If not treated, SPD is fatal in 90 percent of infected dogs. Death typically occurs 12 to 17 days after ingestion of raw fish or amphibian meat and is usually the result of dehydration, electrolyte imbalances and anemia.

Common symptoms

Symptoms of this pet health condition include the following: High fever, Vomiting, Bloody diarrhea, Loss of appetite, Swollen lymph nodes, Lethargy, Weakness, Nasal discharge, Discharge from the eyes and Pale gums.

Treatments

Because SPD is almost always fatal if not treated, prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential. Treatment consists of antibiotics to target the bacteria and a dewormer to clear the flukes. In addition, veterinarians must provide supportive care to correct dehydration, electrolyte imbalances and other problems caused by SPD. Common supportive care measures include intravenous fluid therapy, nutritional support and antidiarrheals. In dogs with severe anemia, blood transfusions may also be necessary. Due to the severity of SPD, dog owners in endemic areas should focus on prevention. The only way to prevent this disease is to stop dogs from consuming raw fish and amphibians. Adequately cooked fish and amphibian meat is safe since heat kills the bacteria that cause SPD, but no part of a raw carcass is considered safe for consumption.

Breeds Affected

SPD affects members of all canine breeds.

Salmon Poisoning Disease Affects

  • SPD is a complex disease. It occurs when dogs eat fish or amphibians infected with the flukeNanophyetus salmincola. On its own, this fluke is relatively harmless. To cause SPD, the fluke must be infected with Neorickettsia helminthoeca. After pets eat the flesh of a contaminated fish or amphibian, the flukes from the raw meat attach to the walls of the dog’s intestine, and the infected flukes release bacteria. These bacteria cause disruptions within the gastrointestinal tract and spread through the blood to the liver, lungs, brain and other organs. Symptoms usually begin five to seven days after a dog eats infected fish or amphibian meat. In some cases, however, dogs can develop symptoms more than a month after eating contaminated meat. If not treated, SPD is fatal in 90 percent of infected dogs. Death typically occurs 12 to 17 days after ingestion of raw fish or amphibian meat and is usually the result of dehydration, electrolyte imbalances and anemia.

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