(FOX 46) - A highly contagious and potentially deadly virus is making its way to the Carolinas.
According to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the 'dog flu' has already killed two dogs in North Carolina, as the disease makes its way up from Florida.
No cases have been confirmed in the Charlotte area, but the virus' ability to spread quickly has vets on high alert.
The most recent case was confirmed on June 2 on the east coast of North Carolina and is associated with exposure from a dog show in Florida. The other dog killed was from the Raleigh area.
Canine Influenza Virus:
Canine Influenza Virus is spread through:
- Close proximity to infected dogs (it is airborne and can travel up to 20 ft.; Dog parks are ideal for spreading the virus)
- Contact with contaminated items (bowls, leashes, crates, tables, clothing, dog runs, etc.)
- People moving between infected and uninfected dogs
- 80% of all dogs that are exposed to the virus will contract it
- The virus lives up to 24 hours on soft surfaces and up to 48 hours on hard surfaces.
- Some exposed dogs will be subclinical carriers - meaning some dogs will contract and spread the virus without showing symptoms.
- Dogs show clinical signs within 24-48 hours and can shed the virus for up to 28 days from exposure.
- Most dogs will completely recover with proper treatment.
- Dogs that regularly interact with dogs outside of their own family or frequent places where many dogs gather are most susceptible to exposure to Canine Influenza Virus.
- Dry, hacking cough (similar to kennel cough)
- Lack of appetite
- Discharge from the nose or eyes
- Fever (normal temperature is 101 - 102)
- The best protection is vaccination. There is now a single vaccination for both the H3N2 and H3N8 strains of the virus. The vaccination requires a booster shot two weeks after the initial vaccine. Vaccination provides the best chance of immunity within 7-14 days of booster shot.
- Isolate sick animals and keep them isolated for up to 30 days after symptoms subside.
- Practice good sanitation. Use a bleach and water mixture diluted to 1-part bleach x 30 parts water to disinfect common areas such as tables, bowls, leashes, crates, etc. Allow items to thoroughly air dry for a minimum of 10 minutes before exposing dogs to them. Bleach breaks down quickly so solution should be made daily. Keep in mind that bleach becomes inactive in UV light. If mopping use two buckets so as not to cross contaminate areas
- Wash your hands frequently, ideally between handling different dogs. At the very minimum, hand sanitizer should be used between handling dogs.
- Use disposable gowns or wipe down clothing and shoes with a bleach solution between dogs or after leaving an area where dogs congregate.
- Food/water bowls should be made of stainless steel instead of plastic because scratched plastic is hard to fully disinfect.
- Treatment of Canine Influenza Virus requires veterinary assistance. If you believe your dog may have Canine Influenza Virus, please contact your veterinarian immediately. Untreated, the illness may progress to pneumonia or other, more serious problems. H3N2 can lead to severe secondary pneumonia which can cause extremely sick dogs with potential fatalities.
- Most dogs take 2-3 weeks to recover from the illness.
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