Friday, 20 March 2009

New Dog Flu

A new respiratory virus which is very contagious has been recently detected in dogs around the country. Previously it had only been found in the greyhound racing industry. It has been detected at kennels in New York, Florida, and Massachussetts according to the CDC. 

Canine flu was discovered last year when an unusual illness was affecting dogs at greyhound tracks in Florida. Virologists, working with researchers from the CDC and the University of Florida, determined the greyhounds had a type of influenza previously found only in horses. 
This is the first time researchers have encountered an equine influenza virus jumping the species barrier, and they have not determined how it occurred. 
Most of the exposed dogs become infected, the researchers said. The virus is spread from dog to dog via coughing, contaminated objects, and even people. 
Some facts known so far: 

" About 80 percent of exposed dogs contract a mild form of the disease. 

" 20 percent of infected animals show no signs of the disease but can still spread it. 

" The mortality rate is thought to be between 5 and 8 percent. 

" The disease mimics kennel cough-a type of canine bronchitis that is rarely serious. 

" Canine influenza symptoms include low-grade fever, cough, and nasal discharge. 

" The bordetella vaccine, which protects dogs against kennel cough, does not work against the flu. 

" Development of a vaccine for canine flu is currently underway. 

" Most dogs recover with no treatment. Others require the same kind of treatment people need: plenty of fluids and rest. 

" In severe cases, dogs may require intravenous fluids and antibiotics to fight secondary infections. 

You have probably seen the many rumors floating around the internet about this disease. It is not as deadly as many will want to make it. The flu is now showing up in Florida animal shelters, boarding facilities, and veterinary clinics, mostly in Broward, Dade, and Palm Beach counties. Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson alerted the public last week to the canine respiratory disease. 

What you should do regarding this new disease 

" If your dog exhibits any signs of respiratory illness, immediately see your veterinarian. 

" Tell the doctor if your dog recently boarded at a kennel. 

" Use a boarding kennel you are familiar with. 

" Stay on the lookout for announcements of disease outbreaks in your area. 

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