A very contagious strain of dog flu is spreading in Florida, and experts are urging owners to get their pets vaccinated to contain the outbreak, according to a Miami Herald report.
There have been over a dozen confirmed cases thus far, and although the virus isn’t usually fatal, untreated dogs can go on to develop more serious symptoms and a potentially fatal pneumonia.
“There is an imminent threat for dogs to be exposed to this virus in this state. Now is the time for vets and dog owners to consider getting their dogs vaccinated as soon as possible,” said professor Cynda Crawford of the University of Florida. “I think at the university of Florida we’re probably just seeing the tip of the iceberg.”
Previously, cases of H3N2 dog flu had been limited to countries like Korea, Thailand, and China, but in 2015 they started popping up in Chicago and have spread to several different areas across the U.S. since then. Symptoms of the virus include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, fever, and lethargy, which can last for approximately four weeks.
This strain is particularly dangerous because of how contagious it is. Experts say that most dogs do not have an immunity and have not been vaccinated against it, so the chances of it spreading are high. Crawford suggests that owners be extremely cautious about bringing their pets out of the house, especially to parks where they may interact with other infected dogs or be exposed to contaminants that are left behind.
“I would encourage owners to refrain from having their dogs being around dogs that are coughing or have other signs of a potential respiratory infection. Please don’t allow your dog to socialize,” she said.
Importance of vaccination
Although some pet owners may think that their dog is safe if they’re kept at home, Crawford says that it’s extremely important to go get them vaccinated anyway. “The price is far less than hospital care for a dog that gets a serious illness,” she points out.
Although the vaccination is not a guarantee that your dog will not become infected, experts say that doing so will make your dog less susceptible to contagions and more likely to get over an infection quickly. More serious symptoms are also far less likely to happen in dogs that have been vaccinated.
Getting your dog vaccinated is also important from a community standpoint, since the virus will have a tougher time proliferating if more dogs are immunized against it.
To learn more about dog flu, you can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website here.