Cases of dog flu have been reported in Philadelphia, North Texas, California, and other parts of the US.
Veterinarians are warning of a brutal canine influenza season as the virus is highly contagious and is spread through barking and sneezing.
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Dog flu symptoms resemble those of a human flu virus, and is diagnosed in the same way. Vets will swab a dog’s nose and then perform a lab-based PCR test.
While vets say that there is an ‘effective’ vaccine for the virus, they warn of low supplies and a long wait
The Mail Online reports: Some kennels and doggy daycares have shut down temporarily or significantly ramped up cleaning protocols in response, and vets advise pet owners to get the canine flu vaccine.
Humans are thought to be generally safe from infection, with no human dog flu cases having ever been reported. There is always the possibility an animal virus can spread to humans, though, and experts say society is woefully unprepared for it.
Zoonotic diseases pose a particular risk for humans with viruses that can infect other mammals such as pigs, because their cells have very similar receptors to those in humans.
Indiana, Ohio, New York, and several other states have also reported cases this winter.
Lost Dogs in Texas, a Twitter account for missing pets, advised Thursday: ‘We don’t usually post medical information, but dog flu is on the rise in Texas. If you take your dog to dog parks or your dog mingles with other dogs, ask your vet about getting a flu shot.
‘A veterinarian is trying to keep track of all dog flu cases.’
There are limited treatment options after a dog becomes infected, but there is a preventative vaccine they can receive from their vet.
But supplies of vaccines are scarce, with many clinics reporting shortages and long wait lists due to continued supply chain problems linked to the pandemic and knock-on effects of lockdowns.
Valley Animal Center in Fresno, California, told 6ABC that the shortage, stemming from supply chain difficulties, has been backed up at times for as long as three months.
The current waitlist at the hospital is about 100-strong.