|Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) was diagnosed in 30 dogs examined at North Carolina State University, Veterinary Teaching Hospital between 1984 and 1997.
Historical, physical examination, and laboratory abnormalities were reviewed.
Diagnostic criteria included a four-fold rise in antibody titer to Rickettsia rickettsii (R. rickettsii) (n=15) or a single R. rickettsii antibody titer of 1:1,024 or greater (n=15; when this initial titer was determined one week or more after the onset of clinical signs).
Fifteen (50%) dogs were greater than seven years of age, and 13 (43%) dogs were between two and seven years of age.
There was no sex predilection.
Only five (17%) dogs had a history of known tick exposure.
Presumably due to delayed diagnosis, dogs with antibody titers of 1:1,024 or greater at the time of presentation had a higher incidence of more severe neurological dysfunction (e.g., ataxia, hyperesthesia, vestibular disease, and seizures) and cutaneous lesions (e.g., hyperemia, edema, petechiae, ecchymoses, and necrosis).
Laboratory findings included anemia, leukocytosis accompanied by toxic granulation of neutrophils, hypoalbuminemia, and coagulation abnormalities; signs were generally more severe in the 15 dogs with R. rickettsii antibody titers of 1:1,024 or greater at the time of presentation.
Twelve (40%) dogs in this study were severely thrombocytopenic (less than 75 x10(3) platelets/microl; reference range, 200 to 450 x 10(3)/microl), without clinical evidence of fulminant disseminated intravascular coagulation.
In this study, the survival rate following R. rickettsii infection was 100%.
Source: AM Gasser, AJ Birkenheuer, and EB Breitschwerdt (2001): Canine Rocky Mountain Spotted fever: a retrospective study of 30 cases. In: Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, Vol 37, Issue 1, 41-48
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