While H1N1, or the swine flu, may be getting front-page press, pet health experts and dog owners are beginning to worry about the spread of a respiratory infection known as dog flu.
The flu, or H3N8, is highly contagious and potentially deadly infection, according to the Tampa Tribune. Experts say the strand began circulating at a Florida greyhound track and has now spread to 30 states.
While there is no evidence dog flu can spread to people, researchers from NYC Veterinary Specialists say the type A influenza was likely transmitted to dogs from horses. Last year 1,079 cases had been confirmed in dogs.
Cynda Crawford, professor in the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine who assisted in identifying the infection, advised dog owners to be wary of runny noses, coughs and fevers – the same symptoms of the flu in humans.
Dog owners are further advised to wash their hands after handling other dogs, as the flu strand is easily killed by disinfectants, the news source says.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, about 80 percent of dogs exposed to the virus will develop symptoms, and as many as 5 percent will die, typically after developing pneumonia.