Typically, the announcement of an influenza epidemic striking the United States would likely induce fear and panic across the ntionon. With this current epidemic, over 1000 patients in at least six states have been sick and at least 6 patients have died as a result of the virus. you may be asking yourself, why you have not heard of this epidemic? The answer is simple: the patients are dogs.
While pet owners may be not be aware that dogs can influenza, it is important to note that the strain of the virus that infects dogs does not infect human. In fact, the virus causing this epidemic is actually an avian flu that originated in China and Korea that has adapted to the canine respiratory system. The outbreak in the U.S. started in Chicago, IL and has been confirmed in New York, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana. While there has not been a confirmed case in Kentucky at the writing of this article, it is a highly contagious virus and spreads rapidly.
Symptoms of flu in dogs are very similar to the symptoms that humans experience: Runny nose, cough, and fever. As with humans, treatment is mostly supportive therapy and antibiotics are prescribed in the event of a secondary infection. There is a vaccine available, but it is not specific for this strain. Veterinarians are not sure how effective it will be. The vaccines is higher in cost than the more commonly recommended vaccines, such as rabies, kennel cough, and parvo. However, the cost of the treatment can total into the thousands depending on the hospital you use since the dog will need to be quarantined while being treated.
The disease can be fatal, especially in the very young and very old, since their immune systems are not working at full capacity. As mentioned previously, there have been over 1000 confirmed cases, but only six deaths. If you suspect that your family pet is sick with the flu, you will need to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible to confirm the presence of the virus.
More inforation can be located on the Center of Disease Control