The state veterinarian is advising dog owners to monitor their pets due to reports of canine influenza in Tennessee.
The UT College of Veterinary Medicine recently confirmed detection of canine influenza (CI) in four dogs in East Tennessee. The illness in three of the dogs is believed to have originated at a dog show in Perry, Georgia.
Canine influenza--or dog flu--is a highly contagious viral infection. It is spread among dogs via direct contact, nasal secretions (through barking, coughing or sneezing), and contaminated objects. People who handle infected dogs may also transmit the virus to healthy dogs.
This virus can affect cats, however there is no evidence that the strains of CI detected in the U.S. have caused illness in humans.
"At this time, reports of canine influenza have been limited to East Tennessee," State Veterinarian Charles Hatcher said. "But we encourage dog owners across the state to keep a close eye on their pets' health, especially if they have co-mingled with other dogs or participated in dog shows."
Symptoms of CI may include a persistent cough, discharge from the nose or eyes, sneezing, lethargy, loss of appetite and/or fever. Nearly all dogs exposed to CI become infected. Although it will result in a mild illness in most dogs, in some cases it can lead to pneumonia and even death, particularly for puppies, elderly dogs and dogs with pre-existing health conditions. If you suspect your dog may be ill, contact your veterinarian immediately.
There is a vaccine for the H3N2 strain of CI. Ask your veterinarian if the vaccine would benefit your dog.
The state veterinarian offers these tips:
- Make sure your dog is up-to-date on all appropriate vaccinations.
- Wash your hands after contact with any dogs.
- Avoid co-mingling dogs.
- Do not share equipment or toys between dogs.
- Immediately isolate any dog that shows signs of illness and contact your veterinarian.
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