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Couple’s Dog Survives Mysterious Illness Sweeping US, They Say Stranger’s Suggestion Online Saved Him

Couple’s Dog Survives Mysterious Illness Sweeping US, They Say Stranger’s Suggestion Online Saved Him

Dogs and good news. The world needs both. And this story — at least for one family and potentially for others — happily combines the two.

According to KABC-TV in Los Angeles, John and Becky Oliver of Fallbrook, California, received online advice from a stranger that helped their dog, Ike, recover from a mysterious canine respiratory affliction.

With veterinarians flummoxed, the stranger suggested chloramphenicol, an antibiotic often used to treat eye infections.

Ike, a 5-year-old golden retriever, had gotten sick while competing in dog shows in September.

Veterinarians put him in quarantine due to the highly contagious nature of his illness — canine infectious respiratory disease complex.

Within hours of receiving the chloramphenicol treatment, however, Ike’s symptoms improved.

“They had given up,” Becky Oliver said of the veterinarians, “and [Ike] was starting to give up.”

The medication saved the dog from an illness that veterinarians still do not fully understand.

“It’s a very, very strong last-resort antibiotic, but it’s what saved him,” Becky Oliver said. “Otherwise he would not be here.”

Very, very strong indeed. According to the National Institutes of Health, chloramphenicol treats not only eye infections but also typhoid and cholera.

Curiously, the Veterinary Centers of America network of animal hospitals already has identified chloramphenicol as a “broad-spectrum antibiotic … approved for use in dogs and horses.”

VCA also issued a news release on Wednesday about “an increase in cases of canine respiratory illness in some states.”

It didn’t identify the illness, however.

“While the specific cause is currently unknown, diagnostic testing is underway,” the release said.

The American Veterinary Medical Association’s website says CIRDC is commonly known as “kennel cough,” describing the illness as “mild” and adding that “dogs fully recover within 7 to 10 days.”

However, KABC quoted veterinarian Dr. Ross Bernstein as saying this latest outbreak is anything but mild.

“Just in one clinic that I was at last week, we had three separate cases of young dogs getting very sick, progressively worse and they ended up having to be euthanized, unfortunately,” Bernstein said.

Last week, Dr. Lisa Bazzle of the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital summarized the situation regarding this new and more severe form of CIRDC.

“Unlike the more common infections associated with kennel cough and CIRDC, these cases don’t respond to standard medical therapy, and can have a prolonged illness that can progress to pneumonia,” Bazzle wrote.

“Of these, some respond to antibiotic therapy, supportive therapy, and oxygen support, while other cases deteriorate rapidly,” she said.

There is always a difference between dispensing advice and asking reasonable questions. I lack the qualifications to do the former, but I feel an obligation to do the latter.

For instance, did the Olivers’ veterinarians fail to consider an antibiotic already approved for dogs?

The answer need not have sinister implications. After all, people make mistakes.

On the other hand, at a time when public trust in the medical establishment has sunk to a well-deserved all-time low, this story serves as one more reminder that we must never surrender our judgment to “experts.”

In short, we must always investigate things for ourselves. Sometimes a random stranger online does know the truth.

Thankfully, Ike benefited from the Olivers’ determination to seek that truth no matter its source. Now, hopefully, other families will experience that same good news for their own pets.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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