Dog Flu is spreading across Connecticut

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The Hilda May Williams Student Health Services building serves as the Infirmary for UConn students on the Storrs campus (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

Dog flu is infecting canines across the United States and can spread quickly, according to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. As of Aug. 17, four dogs have been tested positive for the disease in Connecticut. 

Doctors expect that number of Connecticut cases to grow. According to a WFSB article, the number can grow from dogs coming in contact with dogs with the illness.

Two cases were reported in Stamford, according to Patch

Dog flu, or canine influenza, is a contagious viral infection transmitted through respiratory droplets produced during coughing and sneezing from infected dogs, according to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.

Influenza virus can quickly change and start new strains, according to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. A new strain of the disease, H3N2, was first seen in the United States in March 2015 in the Chicago area. By 2017, dogs were diagnosed with H3N2 in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Louisiana and Illinois.

Doctor Edyta Hrynkiewicz of the Animal Hospital of Rocky Hill told WFSB this new strain is causing dogs to cough and sneeze initially, but sometimes symptoms are worsening to pneumonia and high fevers.

“This is kind of the bigger, badder flu. The symptoms of this flu are just worse than that original flu we were always worried about,” Hrynkiewicz said to WFSB.

Dogs infected with the virus can have different syndromes, according to the American Kennel Club. General syndromes include red eyes, runny nose, fever and coughing. Vaccination is key to prevent dog flu in high risk areas, although a lot of people do not vaccinate, said Allison Valluzzo, who graduated from University of Connecticut last May with an animal science degree.

“ [The yearly vaccine is] really recommended for high risk areas, but people still don’t do it. I work in a pretty big ER practice and only the really educated owners who are aware of the recent outbreaks are vaccinating,” Valluzzo said. “Some kennels require it, which they should, but it isn’t a core vaccine. Usually, since the vaccine that comes with more risk than your typical kennel cough [vaccine], we don’t encourage regular stay-at-home pups to be vaccinated for it, but if your dog is in a high stress zone,it’s a good idea.”

It is best to avoid bringing dogs to areas with lots of dogs to prevent illness, Kirstin McLeod, a seventh-semester pre-vet major, said.  

“To be safe, avoid taking your pooch to areas with reported outbreaks of the flu. This means kennels, [dog] groomers and doggie hotels in cities and towns that have had reported outbreaks,” McLeod said. “To be extra safe, avoid dog parks and other areas with lots of dogs until the flu has run its course.”


Rachel Philipson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at rachel.philipson@uconn.edu.
 

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