Canine Influenza Cases, Which Can Be Fatal, On Increase In MoCo – Patch

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GERMANTOWN, MD — A growing number of canine influenza virus cases have been reported by a number of veterinary practices in Montgomery County and around the Washington, D. C., region, which has prompted warnings about sending pets to doggy daycare and dog parks.

The Montgomery County Office of Animal Services wants dog owners to be aware, and take precautions, regarding the respiratory disease that is caused by a strain of the Type A influenza virus and is highly contagious.

The symptoms of canine influenza are cough, runny nose, eye discharge, fever, lethargy plus poor appetite. The signs range in severity between no signs at all and severe illness, sometimes resulting in death.

Canine influenza is thought to spread in aerosol respiratory droplets and contaminated surfaces. It is not transmissible to people. However , people can spread the virus to dogs via their clothing, equipment or hands, county officials said in a news release.

Animal Services warned dog owners if their pet shows any of the symptoms, it could be infected with canine influenza. Pet owners who suspect their dog may have the disease should contact their veterinarian immediately for assessment and early supportive treatment.

If a dog is diagnosed with canine influenza, that dog should be separated from other animals for at least 28 days. Infected dogs should not go to dog parks, doggy daycare, grooming and boarding facilities.

Most dogs recover within two to three weeks, but some may develop secondary bacterial infections leading to more severe illness.

There is a canine influenza vaccine available, but it is not considered a core vaccine for all dogs. With the current cases occurring in the region, animal services suggest that dog owners speak with their veterinarian about having their dog vaccinated.

Dogs that visit dog parks, doggy daycare or who are boarded when their owners are traveling are more at risk for canine influenza.

While the vaccine may not stop a dog from contracting the virus completely, it will lessen the severity and help reduce the spread of the virus.

Additional precautions that pet owners can take to keep their dog safe include:

  • Limit direct contact with other dogs when on walks. Do not allow them to sniff one another.
  • Avoid using shared toys or dishes.
  • Consider skipping daycare, boarding, grooming facilities and dog parks.
  • Contact the dog’s daycare or even boarding facility and ask about recent cases and cleaning protocols.

Sources to learn more about canine influenza:

Animal services officers are available seven days a week to investigate complaints plus respond to animal emergencies 24 hours a day.

For more information, check out www.montgomerycountymd.gov/animalservices

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