Massachusetts has confirmed it’s first case of dog flu this year, and veterinarians are encouraging owners to get their pups vaccinated. Though this is only one confirmed case so far, the flu is known to spread rapidly in dogs, and DogFlu.com warns that most dogs who come in contact with the virus will become infected. The vaccine is estimated to be about 60% effective in warding off the flu.
Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, and fever which could turn into pneumonia in senior dogs or those with respiratory issues.
Boston veterinarians aren’t certain that the infected dog is the first dog to have the flu in the state this year, nor do they know what strain is responsible for their illness. The dog hadn’t travelled anywhere where there had been an outbreak, so there may be other dogs in the community who have caught the flu. Since the first dog, two others have been treated for flu-like symptoms, but whether it is because of the flu is uncertain.
Earlier this month, both Virginia and North Carolina veterinarians were trying to figure out a “mysterious” respiratory disease infecting dogs in both states. More recently there were reports that nine dogs were seen for dog flu in Connecticut this summer. Veterinarians were especially concerned because the dogs caught the H3N2 virus that caused widespread outbreaks across the U.S. in 2015. But veterinarian Dr. Virginia Synott tells CBS Boston:
“H3N2 is the strain that everyone worries about because it’s in the news a lot. We must keep in mind that, for most dogs, flu – even H3N2 – is just a nuisance. They’ll feel crummy for a couple days and cough quite a bit, but it is generally not fatal.”
Previous outbreaks of H3N2 influenza lasted only a few months on average, and dogs can be treated with antibiotics and fluids should they catch the flu. DogFlu.com recommends vaccinating your dog and avoiding dog parks, boarding facilities, and day cares if possible. For more info, check out 6 Dog Flu Symptoms Every Pup Parent Should Know.
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