There was a recent news story concerning a disease called HGE that contained some misleading information. We would like to present the facts so as to reduce some worries and set the record straight.
HGE is an abbreviation for a relatively uncommon disease called Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis. The hallmark of the disease is a sudden attack of bloody diarrhea. Contrary to the news story, the disease is not contagious from dog to dog and therefore if the dogs affected had HGE, they did not contract it at the boarding kennel. Incidentally, HGE is also not a human concern so there is no risk to the pet owner at all. The article mentions the State Department of Agriculture and states that they are concerned about this disease. Because involving the Ohio Department of Agriculture is a rather significant step, we contacted them to discuss the situation. They informed us that there is no current concern about this disease being a new problem of significance and they were just informed of three dogs developing bloody diarrhea in the Cincinnati area. In fact, in a busy veterinary practice such as Animal Care Centers, having an animal present with bloody diarrhea is unfortunately far from new or unique, as I am sure it is in other busy veterinary practices.
The news story and accompanying article also mentions that HGE is a difficult disease to diagnose and that it is basically a diagnosis of exclusion - meaning that the diagnosis of HGE is what's left over after everything else is ruled out. In fact, HGE is a straightforward diagnosis (for an experienced veterinarian) that takes under 15 minutes and a simple and inexpensive blood test to confirm. There is no need to perform multiple and expensive diagnostic tests in order to confirm the diagnosis of HGE.
There are unfortunately multiple reasons for bloody diarrhea. They range from the ridiculously simple to very complex problems. Problems that cause bloody diarrhea can also range from a straight-forward treatment regimen with an excellent chance of recovery (such as HGE) to difficult to treat problems with a poor chance of recovery. Because bloody diarrhea is never normal, if your dog or cat develops this symptom, you should immediately seek veterinary care so that we can determine the cause and begin treatment as soon as possible to insure your pet has the best chance of recovery.
If you have any further questions or concerns about HGE please do not hesitate to contact us!