Veterinarians in the Chicago area are warning dog owners of a severe outbreak of canine influenza that has sickened numerous animals and killed five.
According to the Chicago Sun Times, over 1,000 dogs in the Chicago area have been diagnosed with the respiratory disease, which is spread from dog to dog through contact at dog parks, boarding kennels, shelters and other public areas where dogs play and interact.
Symptoms of the flu include a loud cough, lack of appetite, and fever. If the disease progresses, the dog can come down with pneumonia. Veterinarians in the Midwest city saw an uptick in canine influenza cases in January, and there has been a steady increase in new cases since then.
“I have been practicing for 20 years and I have never seen anything this bad, this contagious, this widespread,” Jane Lohmar of Family Pet Animal Hospital told the Sun Times.
Several dog daycare facilities are taking precautions and several local doggy events have been canceled. PetSmart announced that they are closing three local PetsHotels until the outbreak is under control.
Veterinarians are urging pet parents to keep their dogs isolated from other dogs to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
And although the outbreak is worrisome, West Loop Veterinary Care medical director David Gonsky is asking dog owners to remain calm and practice precautions. “There have been hundreds of these infected dogs seen at area veterinary hospitals and the number who have gotten pneumonia is small,” he told reporters. “The number who have died is very small.”
Five dogs have died from the disease in the Chicago area.
Image: Ivonne Wierink via Shutterstock