Intestinal Virus (Reovirus) Infection in Dogs

An infection of intestine caused by a group of viruses, known as reovirus, is termed as reovirus infection. This infection limits or inhibits absorption of nutrients into the intestinal walls and causes diarrhea and dehydration.

Reovirus is any virus of a group of ribonucleic acid (RNA) viruses constituting the family Reoviridae, a small group of animal and plant viruses. Viruses in the family Reoviridae have genomes consisting of segmented, double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). Reo stands for respiratory enteric orphan viruses. Enteric means of or related to intestines. The term orphan virus describes that a virus that is not associated with any known disease. Although recent studies have associated these viruses with many diseases (and they are no longer orphans), the old name is still in use.

The infection with reovirus causes destruction of intestinal villi (small hairs like projection in intestinal walls). As a result, absorption of food nutrients into the intestinal walls is reduced. The loss of absorptive capability leads to diarrhea.

The virus is shed in the feces of the infected animals. Transmission to a new host occurs through contact with contaminated feces or by inhalation of airborne viruses particles. Furthermore, reovirus can suppress the immune system of the infected animal, leaving it more prone to other infections. 

The infection causes diarrhea which is the primary symptom of reovirus infection. Other complications depend on type of reovirus. Usually, irritation and inflammation of the nose, and cold-like symptoms (rhinitis) are also evident. In severe cases, conjunctivitis, pneumonia, infection of the brain tissue (encephalitis), and respiratory tract irritation are also seen in infected animals.

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