Warning about dangerous strain of dog flu - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Warning about dangerous strain of dog flu

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A warning is being issued for dog owners this week about a dangerous strain of dog flu.

Recent cases have emerged in Washington and Montana and health officials say the virus is highly contagious. Local veterinarians advise owners to pay close attention to their pet's health.

One dog in Montana recently tested positive for the virus. In Seattle, the State Health Department is warning pet owners after a possible exposure at a Seattle area kennel which may have infected as many as 90 dogs.

“These outbreaks have been happening sporadically across 24 states in the last 5 months. That’s pretty significant” said Dr. Jennifer Luke.

Dr. Luke is with the Tierrasanta Veterinary Hospital and she says health officials in Washington suspect this could be the same strain of dog flu that hit Chicago last year. The dog flue spread so quickly that some animal shelters were forced to close their doors to prevent further contamination. Nationwide, 2000 dogs in 24 states have been infected. Dr Luke says she only knows of one case here in San Diego which was diagnosed last March.

 “If we see them early and get them on preventative antibiotics, they do really well,” said Dr. Luke.

Dr. Luke says the illness is rarely fatal. There have only been five reported deaths and it's unclear whether their owners sought medical attention early on or if they waited too long.

Dr. Luke says dogs living a social lifestyle by going to doggy day care, dog parks and the groomer should be particularly careful.

“This one is highly contagious and hangs on for a long time. These dogs are contagious for up to 24 days,” said Dr. Luke.

The San Diego County Kennel says they do not have any reported cases, however, they recommend dog owners check with their vets for the vaccine.

Humans cannot contract the virus, but they can spread it to healthy dogs after close contact with an infected dog.

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