Animals

Local veterinarians concerned about dog flu outbreak

WILSONVILLE, Ore. (WILSONVILLE SPOKESMAN) --- Local dog owners are being warned to watch for signs of canine flu after reports of an outbreak in San Francisco that could creep its way north.

Steve Haley, a veterinarian with the Animal Care Group of Lake Oswego, says a flare-up of dog flu in Northern California has veterinary health authorities in Oregon worried it might make an appearance here.

"It's a fairly novel or new viral infection in dogs, so they don't have any inherent immunity to it," Haley said. "The other thing is it's super contagious. Once it sets up in a geographic area, it spreads pretty quickly."

After seeing the first few cases in mid-December, veterinarians say there are now more than 170 documented cases in San Francisco. Due to the heavy traffic between the two states along I-5 and the high number of shelters that bring dogs from California to Oregon, veterinary authorities are advising pet owners to vaccinate their dogs for both the H3N8 and H3N2 strains.

"What we're recommending is using a bivalent vaccine that covers both strains. It's readily available and administered as a two-shot series, giving immunity for up to a year," Haley said. "Human flu has seasonality, so we're trying to cover a 3-4 month window. The interesting thing with dog flu is there is no seasonality. Once it's in an area, it's there year-round."

This flu is dog specific and hasn't been found to be contagious to humans or other pets such as cats, according to Haley. The H3N2 strain seen in the San Francisco outbreak was first documented in the Chicago area in 2014, and has slowly crept west over the past few years.

At-risk dogs include any pets that socialize with other dogs on a regular basis through boarding, grooming, daycare, dog parks and dog shows. Symptoms include a pronounced fever, typically above 103 degrees; eye discharge; nasal discharge; and lethargy. Some dogs might show worse symptoms than others, and the sickness can last up to three weeks.

Haley said the vaccine is readily available at most veterinary clinics, If you think your dog may be contracting canine flu, call your veterinarian or the ACGLO at 503-850-6280.


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