The University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine has reported a confirmed case of canine influenza virus — possibly the same strain that has sickened thousands of dogs in the Midwest, killing a handful of them, according to Atlanta’s FOX 5 News.
UGA’s Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory confirmed on Friday that a dog — who presented with a cough, fever, lethargy and an inability to eat — was sick with influenza. The pooch recently had been in contact with other dogs at a boarding facility in the metro Atlanta area. The vet school has sent out an alert to veterinarians across the state notifying them of the case.
UGA says tests are due back Wednesday to determine if this dog’s case involves the H3N2 strain, which has sickened more than 1,000 dogs and killed at least five in Chicago and other parts of the Midwest. This strain of virus is new to North America, scientists say.
UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine says the dog flu is similar to kennel cough and other upper respiratory viruses. Generally, the virus is mild, lasting only a couple of weeks. However, experts say dogs with weakened immune systems may need additional care.
Dog owners whose pups show symptoms — a cough, runny nose, fever and lethargy — are advised to contact their veterinarian immediately. There is a vaccine available for an older flu strain that may provide protection against this new one.