BOCA RATON, Fla. - Pet owners have a new reason to be concerned. The first case of a strain of dog flu has been confirmed in Florida and veterinarians are seeing cases of it already.
This flu virus can be lethal. If your dog is around other dogs, goes to the dog park, day care, or groomers veterinarians say the best defense is a new vaccine. It can save your pet's life
Susan Eustace is smitten with her Yorkie-Shih Tzu mix, Kassie. “She's my favorite person in the world,” said Eustace.
So, when her dog started coughing a few days ago, “She just couldn't catch her breath,” explained Eustace. “Her nose was flaring. Didn't know what do with her. She sort of clinched her teeth together.”
Eustace rushed her to Clint Moore Animal Hospital in Boca Raton.
Veterinarian Dr. Brian Butzer recommended Kassie get a vaccine to protect her from a new strain of canine flu: H3N2. The Department of Agriculture sent an alert that the virus is spreading.
“I would classify it as if you don't treat your dog, the dog is going to die,” said Butzer.
Butzer says it doesn’t appear Kassie has the dog flu but he asked Eustace to monitor her for symptoms of it. “Within 24 hours the dogs are much worse, high fever, semi-collapse, not eating, nasal discharge,” explained Dr. Butzer.
He's seen few cases, so far this year. But when they crop up, “We've got to get that dog away from other dogs,” said Dr. Butzer. “It's highly contagious. It can spread through a facility in a matter of 24 to 48 hours. “I have been through an outbreak and I know it can happen again.”
The virus is treated with IV fluids, a high dose of antibiotics and vitamins.
There is no evidence the virus infects people.
The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine released this statement about H3N2
UF College of Veterinary Medicine officials have confirmed more than one dozen cases of canine
influenza A virus, a.k.a. “dog flu.”
The first twelve dogs tested have been confirmed with the strain of influenza A known as H3N2 CIV. Dogs testing positive for the H3N2 strain were either at the Perry, Georgia dog show May 19-21 or the Deland, Florida dog show the following weekend, or were exposed to dogs who were present at these shows.
This is the same strain responsible for the severe outbreak of canine influenza in Chicago in 2015.
Veterinarians in central and north Florida are treating many dogs that are suspected to have dog flu. All
dogs being treated are in stable condition. Common symptoms of dog flu include sneezing, nasal
discharge and frequent coughing.
If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, please call your pet’s
veterinarian before taking your pet in for treatment.