SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) –
The first case of canine flu has shown up in Massachusetts this year.
The dog, from eastern Massachusetts, was on a family trip to Chicago when she contracted the virus. The region has been dealing with a dog-flu outbreak since last month that’s affected more than 1,700 dogs.
Now local veterinarians are saying it’s only a matter of time before New England starts seeing more cases.
“Nasal discharge, cough, fever and loss of appetite,” said Dr. Amy Alwood, medical director at the Boston Road Animal Hospital.
Those are the symptoms the infected dog was ailing from when she was brought to MSPCA’s Angell Medical Center in Boston.
Vets there confirmed the female terrier mix had a virus we most often associate with humans.
“This new strain of viral infection may also infect cats but it’s not the same as the flu strain that affects people. So dog-to-person infection and person to dog infection is not thought to be possible,” Alwood said.
According to the CDC, dog flu actually originated from horses some four decades ago before dogs started contracting the virus.
Alwood says there are ways to protect your pet.
“The same dogs that are getting vaccinated for traditional kennel cough or bordetella vaccines should be considered candidates for viral vaccination,” she said.
That would include dogs who visit dog parks often, show dogs, or dogs that have regular stays in a kennel..
A particular strain of the flu is said to be responsible for the outbreak in the midwest – an h3n2 virus. As of right now there’s a vaccine for strain H3N8. Vets are still researching whether vaccines are effective for both.
“Some would say it’s just not protective but the truth is we just don’t know. So our recommendation is to consider vaccinating dogs that are at risk for viral influenza,” Alwood said.
While the infected dog is recovering at her owners’ home in Watertown, Alwood says to remain vigilant and keep an eye on your pet’s behavior.
“The good news is, the majority of dogs will have mild to moderate signs. But there is that percentage, less than one percent that can have severe respiratory compromise and systemic illness and can be fatal in a minority of cases,” Alwood said.
Copyright 2015 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.