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Canine flu reported in Winston-Salem, Asheville

RALEIGH – North Carolina veterinary officials have received confirmation of three cases of canine influenza in Asheville and Winston-Salem, and are receiving reports of suspected cases in Greensboro.

According to reports, more than 200 dogs may have the virus, but since it is not a reportable disease in North Carolina, the problem could be more widespread. Veterinarians are asked to voluntarily report cases to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Animal Welfare Section at 919-715-7111 or agr.aws@ncagr.gov so officials can track the spread.

The signs of canine flu are cough, runny nose and fever and are similar to other respiratory problems. Other signs can include lethargy, eye discharge, reduced appetite and low-grade fever. Most dogs recover within two to three weeks.

However, secondary bacterial infections can develop, and may cause more severe illness and pneumonia. Anyone with concerns about their pet’s health, or whose pet is showing signs of canine influenza, should contact their veterinarian. Dog owners should consider limiting contact with other dogs and visits to communal areas.

The virus is highly contagious and easily spread from infected dogs to other dogs through direct contact, nasal secretions (through coughing and sneezing), contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes), and people moving between infected and uninfected dogs.

There is a canine flu vaccination, but it may not be appropriate for all dogs. Pet owners should contact their veterinarian to determine if vaccination is advisable.

Dr. Patricia Norris, director of the Animal Welfare Section, recommends that boarding and shelter facilities review their current intake, isolation, veterinary care, monitoring and sanitation protocols with their facility veterinarian to be sure they are taking adequate measures to control the spread of this virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza viruses from dogs to people and there has not been a reported case of human infection with canine influenza. Also, this strain of influenza is different from avian influenza that has caused the deaths of birds in the Midwest.

More information can be found at www.ncagr.gov/vet/aws/canineflu/

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