Dog Owners Warned About Surge in Canine Flu Cases

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STATELINE (WIFR) – A deadly virus has some local pet owners concerned.

Five Illinois dogs are dead, hundreds of others sick as a rare and new illness seems to be spreading to pets in Illinois with most cases being reported in the Chicago area.

It’s called canine influenza, or simply put, Dog Flu and recent Chicago dog deaths have some local veterinarians worried it could be making its way to the Stateline dog parks soon.

The dog flu is very contagious but not usually deadly.

Pooches transfer the virus from nose to nose contact or by swapping saliva. It can live up to a week inside infected carriers. Symptoms include dehydration, a lack of appetite, severe cough, and in some cases, a fever. One vet says the best thing we can do to protect our pups is to keep them home.

"The number one thing you can do is just don’t take your dog to places where dogs congregate right now during the outbreak. So no doggie daycares, no dog parks, if you’re in a household and you have two different dogs they’re going to be already sharing the virus within one household. Don’t try to separate everybody, it’ll drive you crazy,” says Hillcrest Animal Hospital Veterinarian Kari Kobous.

People are not affected by the dog flu, but we can be carriers. It can last up to 24 hours on our clothes and 48 hours on a hard surface.

Vaccinations will be available for high risk dogs and we can get those for about $30.

CHICAGO (AP) -- Officials are cautioning dog owners that a recent surge in cases of canine flu could last for several weeks.
Donna Alexander of the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control said Friday veterinarians have identified more than 1,000 cases of canine infectious respiratory disease, or canine flu. Vets have reported five deaths.

Dog owners should avoid dog parks and keep their pets away from other dogs for now. Dogs can be contagious without showing symptoms.
The condition can cause lingering coughs, lethargic behavior, poor appetite and fever. It's not contagious to humans and won't spread to cats either. But a person who's been in contact with a dog carrying the virus can inadvertently spread it to another dog.

Alexander recommends hand-washing after petting a dog to prevent the spread.

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