Dog flu outbreak hits the Midwest - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Dog flu outbreak hits the Midwest

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - If your four legged friends are getting the sniffles, it could be more serious than you think.

A “dog flu” outbreak is hitting the Midwest, with about 1,000 cases identified.

 Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana have all had several cases of H3N8, a strain of flu that only affects dogs.

Veterinarians say while it can be serious it also preventable.

“It's something we're definitely concerned about but we can make good strides in prevention,” veterinarian for the Lakeside Veterinary Hospital, Dr. Richard Ashe said.

At the Lakeside Veterinary Hospital in Carbondale, veterinarians say there's been two cases where dogs have come in with flu like symptoms.

Vets say the sudden outbreak could be due to the seasons changing and birds migrating and say birds are one of the biggest causes of influenza.

“They could have picked up something from wild animals, to birds, to things out in the yard,” Dr. Ashe said.

Also having many dogs in the same vicinity can have an impact on the animal's likeliness get the flu.

“As more animals come together – you have more of an incidence of communicability of these diseases,” Dr. Ashe said.

During this time of year, there's a high increase of people adopting pets.

St. Francis Care administrators say they haven't seen any flu like symptoms among their dogs, and say they are prepared to take extra precaution when needed.

“Anybody that's exhibiting signs would immediately be isolated,” Executive Director for St. Francis Care, Dr. Kay Creese said. “Because it is contagious and it's an aerosol spray, so when they're sneezing and coughing and carrying on, droplets get in the air and it's very contagious.”

Experts say symptoms to look out for are runny noses, coughing fever, anorexia, and an unwillingness to play.

If these symptoms occur, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Doctors say when canine influenza does occur, the dogs cannot give it to their owners, only other dogs.

Vets encourage owners to have their dogs vaccinated to limit the chance of getting the flu.

They say dogs can get vaccinated as early as eight weeks, and the cost is about $20.

Copyright 2015 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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