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Veterinarians Offer Care and Prevention Advice After Contagious Canine Influenza Reaches Texas

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Over the past two weeks, canine influenza has spread across the southeastern U.S. The illness can spread quickly and has the potential of being fatal, although mortality rates are low. In an interview with 12 News, Oleg Khomutets, who works at Town & Country Animal Hospital in Fairfax as a treatment manager, told the station, “(The) virus lives on people’s hands up to 12 hours and stays on clothes up to 24 hours.” Canine influenza can also be spread from dogs to cats, however, Khomutets noted that the disease is typically not fatal in cats. There have also been no cases of humans contracting the disease.

Veterinarians Offer Care and Prevention Advice After Contagious Canine Influenza Reaches Texas

Photo: Flickr/Austin Community College

Over the past two weeks, this infection has been discovered in Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Possible symptoms to watch for in your pet include high fever, loss of appetite, depression, and respiratory problems. Canine influenza can be spread via direct contact, through contaminated objects (such as food and water dishes, kennel surfaces, leashes and collars,) nasal secretions (sneezing, barking, and coughing), and by humans moving amongst infected and uninfected dogs.

Veterinarians Offer Care and Prevention Advice After Contagious Canine Influenza Reaches Texas
Photo: Wikimedia

Pet owners are asked to monitor their dogs for any signs as noted above, refrain from attending local dog shows at this time (as participants in recent shows in both Florida and Georgia have tested positive), and contact their local veterinarian should any of the symptoms appear or seem persistent in your dog. Steps to prevent the spread of the disease include using proper and consistent hand-washing protocols, disinfecting shelter, boarding, and veterinary facilities, as well as all manner of toys, leashes, and pet accoutrements, keeping healthy dogs away from areas where other dogs gather, and isolating animals believed to be ill until such time as they’re completely recovered. Vaccines for H3N2 canine influenza may be another prevention option owners consider for healthy dogs who are eight weeks of age or older, however dog owners are asked to discuss this option with their local veterinarian to determine if this is right for their dog.

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