Outbreak of Canine Influenza Hits Chicago Area

Cases of the illness have increased within the past two weeks

It might be spring, but flu season is far from over, especially for man’s best friend.

A sudden outbreak of the Canine Influenza Virus has reportedly been spreading throughout the Chicago area over in recent weeks.

According to Kimberly Cerny, the practice manager at Blum Animal Hospital in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood, veterinarians in the area have seen a “drastic increase in the number of severe upper respiratory cases coming into their practices and at Blum” within the past two weeks.

Cerny says there have already been numerous confirmed cases of Canine Influenza, including two that were fatal.

She attributes causes of the Canine Influenza outbreak to the higher amount of dogs boarding due to spring break and the number of dogs in doggie day care each day in the city.

Last week, the Medical District Veterinary Clinic at Illinois reported a large number of coughing dogs in Chicago, most with a history of frequenting daycare, boarding facilities and dog parks. The facility said a vaccine for the influenza is "on the market" but has not been widely used because of "the low risk of canine influenza."

Canine Influenza Virus causes an upper respiratory disease in dogs with symptoms closely mimicking those of Kennel Cough. Dogs show signs of high fever, increased respiratory rate and pneumonia in severe cases.

Vets recommend avoiding dog-to-dog contact when possible and vaccinating dogs at high risk. The virus can survive 48 hours on hard surfaces and 24 hours on clothing. 

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