What is Glanders (Farcy)?
Burkholderia mallei is an infectious bacteria associated with Glanders. Humans can be infected with the disease, but it is mainly seen in animals such as horses and mules. Other animals, such as dogs and cats can contract the disease by contact with an infected animal. The infection is spread through the inhalation of the organism, through fluids released via a cut or wound, or by exposure to excretions of the nose, mouth and eyes. Water that has been infected with the mucosal discharges of an infected animal is a source of the disease, as is consuming the meat of an infected equine.
The exposure to the bacterium Burkholderia mallei is extremely rare due to the successful elimination of Glanders Farcy in most countries worldwide. However, due to the extent of world travel today, the suspicion of infection should always be investigated. It has been noted that infections have been documented recently in a few countries, including China, Pakistan, and Brazil.
Glanders in dogs is a contagious condition; it is classified as zoonotic. Typically seen in horses, mules, and donkeys, this condition has been eradicated from the United States with the last known case documented in the year 2000.
Book First Walk Free!
Symptoms of Glanders (Farcy) in Dogs
There are various symptoms associated with Glanders which depend on the path of the infection as it relates to the bacteria or organism. The basic symptoms seen in equines, which may present similarly in canines include:
- Tightness of the muscles
- Sensitivity to light
- Chest pain
- Muscle ache
- Tearing up of the eyes
- Excessive discharge of mucous from the nasal passage
The various kinds of infection include:
With this form of Glanders, nodules are found in the lungs. Pneumonia may set in and respiratory infection can also be seen in the bronchioles, which then makes its way into the respiratory tract.
This is a pus forming infection which is classified as the Farcy branch of the disease. Pus filled ulcers form and lesions may be identified on the spleen and liver.
This form develops in the mucosa with irregularly shaped ulcers presenting along with enlarged lymph nodes.
It is interesting to note that this disease was once considered a weapon and was used against horses and their human partners. Today, the potential as a bioterrorist threat is very real.
Causes of Glanders (Farcy) in Dogs
The primary cause of this disease is getting infected by another animal through physical contact. If the main lesions are discovered in the nostrils, the disease is known as Glanders. When it is found on the surface of the body or limbs, then it is termed Farcy. The organism can survive for long periods making it a true zoonotic threat.
Diagnosis of Glanders (Farcy) in Dogs
Discuss with the veterinarian your suspicions of exposure to Glanders. A detailed history of recent travel or exposure to canines, horses, donkeys, or mules that may be potential carriers should be discussed. The lymph nodes may become bigger at the onset of Glanders, after which they will ulcerate. Nodules will likely develop in the nasal mucosa and your pet may present with a cough or respiratory distress, which is typical to the illness. Ulcers might be noticed on the body and could be oozing.
Laboratory tests will include blood tests to verify the infection by blood cell count. A urinalysis will show the kidney function. A culture from the ulcerative lesions may indicate bacterial presence.
Treatment of Glanders (Farcy) in Dogs
Your veterinarian will likely administer antibiotic treatment for Glanders. Even though there are various supportive treatments that can be administered by a veterinary specialist, no cure has been found for this disease, nor is there any vaccine available to be used as a preventative measure against it. To prevent an outbreak, animal quarantine is the wisest course of action so that other animals are not infected.
A horse in quarantine is a different situation than a dog in quarantine, basically because canines are more involved in the day to day interactions with humans. Discussion with your veterinarian as to the reality of the situation is warranted.
Recovery of Glanders (Farcy) in Dogs
Keep a close watch on your dog for any possible future symptoms. Listen to the instructions of your veterinarian and restrict your pet from contact with humans or animals. Due to the need for quarantine and the strict procedures that must be carried out when any contact is made with your pet, euthanasia may be considered.