Pseudorabies is suspected of being the cause of death in a small number of dogs in Florida. The name "pseudorabies" can cause confusion and concern because of the significant risks associated with rabies in animals and subsequent exposure of people. Pseudorabies is actually caused by a type of herpesvirus, which is completely unrelated to the lyssavirus that causes rabies. The name of the disease probably came from the neurological signs that the causative herpesvirus can cause in some animal species. Pigs, including wild pigs, are the primary reservoir of this virus, and it is highly contagious within this species.
Dogs are also susceptible to pseudorabies infection, but people are not. Disease in dogs is rare but is typically fatal, causing neurological disease and death over a few hours to days. There is no vaccine to prevent pseudorabies in dogs – the best control measure is to prevent contact between dogs and pigs, particularly wild hogs.
- Pseudorabies is rare in dogs, but the disease is very serious so efforts should be taken to reduce the risk of infection.
- Preventing contact between your dog and pigs in areas where pseudorabies might be present is important. This includes preventing contact with pig carcasses. If pseudorabies might be in your area and you’re in search of the next "hogzilla" (see picture) leave your dog behind or keep it away from the pig.
- Signs of pseudorabies may be indistinguishable from signs of real rabies. Extreme caution should be used when handling any animal with neurological disease that could have rabies. In Canada, and animal suspected of having rabies must also be reported immediately to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). More information about rabies is available on the Worms & Germs Resources page.
- Pseudorabies does not exist in Canada, and it is a reportable disease in this country. It has also been eradicated from many parts of the US. However, the disease still occurs in many countries all over the world.