A virulent dog flu has claimed six lives and sickened more than 1,100 dogs in the Chicago area – and the unprecedented crisis is only growing worse as it spreads across the northeast, south, midwest, and west.
WMDT News reported yesterday that the flu, which was first detected in Chicago, Illinois in April, has now spread to 11 additional states, including California, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Iowa, and Indiana.
The symptoms of this flu include fever, loss of appetite, cough, and nasal discharge. If you live in one of the states listed above, please take precautions for your dog and avoid areas that are likely to have a high canine population density, such as dog parks.
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), canine influenza (dog flu) is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs that is caused by specific Type A influenza viruses that are called “canine influenza viruses.”
While dog flu can be deadly for dogs, no human infections with canine influenza have ever been reported. There are two known influenza A dog flu viruses: an H3N8 virus and an H3N2 virus.
The CDC warns that canine influenza is a relatively new cause of disease in dogs and nearly all dogs are susceptible to infection.
So how can you keep your dog safe?
Remember that some dogs who have dog flu will have asymptomatic infections: They won’t show any outward sings of illness. Other dogs will have severe infections with visible symptoms, but regardless of where dogs fall on the symptom continuum, dogs infected with the canine flu can then spread the flu to uninfected dogs.
The CDC advises:
Dog owners whose dogs are coughing or showing other signs of respiratory disease should not expose their dog to other dogs. Clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease.
If your dog has a cough or other dog flu symptoms, the CDC advises scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian to evaluate your dog and recommend an appropriate course of treatment.
Due to the highly contagious nature of dog flu, using a house call vet might help prevent the spread of this disease.
Has your dog exhibited symptoms of dog flu – or received a dog flu diagnosis? Please comment below.
Updates to this story will be posted as they occur.
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