What You Need to Know About Dog Flu
Canine influenza, or "dog flu," is on the radar of veterinarians across New Jersey, now that the state has tallied its first case stemming from an outbreak in the Midwest.
The highly contagious virus, which can be deadly, has sickened more than 1,000 dogs in Chicago alone. A New Jersey dog was recently treated by professionals in New York.
The outbreak, according to the New Jersey Department of Health, is the result of a virus that's closely related to a strain found mostly in Asia. There is no evidence to suggest the virus can be transferred from dogs to people, but cats can be infected.
Dr. Debbie Breitstein with Animal Health Care of Marlboro said there is a vaccine for canine flu, but it does not attack the specific strain that's causing the current scare.
"There's mutations of this particular virus," she said, adding that the available vaccine may still be able to offer some type of protection.
Supplies are limited in the immediate area, though, as demand has spiked exponentially in the Midwest.
Breitstein said no specific breed of dog is more susceptible than others, but social pooches are at the greatest risk.
"The problem is that it's transmitted through casual contact, dog-to-dog -- play dates, park visits, neighborhood walks, boarding, daycare, play care, grooming," she said.
And one simple sniff, lick or bark can transmit the virus from one dog to another.
According to the state, dog flu has two forms: mild, which consists of a moist cough, fever and reduced appetite, and severe, characterized by a high fever and pneumonia. Less than 10 percent of reported cases result in death.
Even the mildest case, though, can be extremely unpleasant and expensive for owners.
The state has asked that all suspected or confirmed cases be reported to one's local health department.