Dog flu detected in Massachusetts

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP/AP) — Western Massachusetts veterinarians are keeping a close eye on four dogs  infected with canine influenza in the eastern part of the state.

The Massachusetts Division of Animal Health has informed veterinarians that the canine influenza virus, or dog flu, has been found in the state for the first time. First reported in Florida in 2005, the respiratory illness has been confirmed in four Essex County dogs believed to have been exposed at the same facility in Ipswich.

The disease is a respiratory-tract illness similar to the more common bordetella respiratory disease, known as kennel cough. Dog flu can produce a hacking-type cough, along with repeated throat clearing and frequent swallowing and lethargy.

A Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society veterinarian told 22News there is a vaccine for dog flu. However, there’s no need for western Massachusetts dog owners to be alarmed.

Veterinarian Sherri Therrien told 22News, “If you know people’s dogs just have a little, mild cough or just runny nose, but other wise doing well, if they recover quickly from antibiotics, those dogs likely did not have canine influenza.”

Kennel cough is a more common disease and can lead to other illnesses as well. So vets recommend definitely getting your pup vaccinated. The Gloucester Daily Times reports that puppies and older dogs as well as dogs who already suffering from another illness are particularly vulnerable. It is rarely fatal.

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