Canine flu outbreak raising concern in Connecticut

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Veterinarians in Connecticut are monitoring cases of the canine flu, which has been popping up all over the country. There are no known cases in Connecticut, but some have turned up in Massachusetts and New York.

Amy Campagna, owner of A Dog’s Life, a doggie daycare in New Haven, is keeping a close eye on the outbreak.

“It’s kind of been a community effort among daycare owners to figure out what our policy should be,” she said.

The policy aims to limit the amount of exposure.

“We’re not taking out-of-town customers, and if anybody has rescued a dog or moved into the area, we want them to wait three to four weeks before coming in to get their dog test for daycare,” said Campagna.

Just blocks away at Veterinary Wellness Center of New Haven, Dr. Lisa MacKay does not recommend giving your dog the only flu shot available.

“The vaccine we currently have probably does not protect against the new strain,” she said.

The new strain, H3N2, is what more than a thousand dogs came down with in Chicago. The two viruses that cause the canine flu affect the most vulnerable: the young, sick, and older dogs.

“The only way it’s transmitted is from dog to dog. There’s no human risk, so they would have to come in contact with another dog who is actively sick,” said Dr. MacKay.

Treatment varies.

“It’s just supportive care,” said the veterinarian. “Helping them to eat, to be comfortable, maybe something for fever.”

“I’m not worried about it because it’s not here and I feel like the benefits of the daycare outweigh worrying about it,” said dog owner Pat Swope.

Her dog, Gracie, is in tip top shape.

“I take her to her vet frequently and she gets all the vaccinations, kennel cough, and everything,” said Swope. “I feel like I protect her as much as I can.”

Symptoms of the canine flu include little appetite, sleeping more than usual, running a fever, and acting sick. Dr. Mackay says if your pet has a strong immune system and by chance does come in contact with the virus, they may never show signs of being sick.8 things to know about the dog flu outbreak:

  • It only affects animals.
  • Dog owners in states affected by the virus are told to avoid dog parks, grooming spots, and other areas where pets gather.
  • This strain is mostly found in Asia. It first showed up in North America last month.
  • The strain is an avian flu and can affect cats as well as dogs.
  • The sickness can be fatal.
  • The symptoms are similar to how a human would react. Dogs have runny noses, coughs, and are lethargic.
  • There is no specific treatment because it is a viral disease, but an antibiotic can be used if a secondary infection is diagnosed.
  • The virus can easily spread among dogs staying at kennels and shelters.

Check in with your vet if you have questions.

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