Dog Flu Spreads Across the Midwest; One Confirmed Case in Wisconsin

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City Updates | General | Health Department |

Canine Influenza has spread to Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana. One case of canine influenza has been confirmed in the Madison area, according to a release put out by the University Of Wisconsin- School Of Veterinary Medicine. According to the release, canine influenza is not transmissible to humans or cats, but it can be passed from dog to dog. The infection may be serious, and has been associated with some deaths, officials said. Symptoms like coughing, sneezing, fever, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, and lethargy may not appear for 10 days, but can then last up to two weeks.

Canine influenza is active in the Chicago area, with more than 1,000 cases identified, officials said. If traveling to the Chicago area, it is recommended that dog owners avoid dog parks, group dog training activities and other areas where their dogs might encounter other dogs. Dr. Donna Alexander with Cook County Animal Control says, “Just like humans, the key to not spreading the virus is washing your hands and keeping areas clean.” She said it is a misconception that humans can transmit the flu to dogs or vice versa, but that does not mean that humans cannot spread germs.

"The way humans act as a vector is if we get any of the dog's sputum, the nasal discharge, the cough, the aerosolized types of particles on our hands when we're touching them - from their leash, their clothing, from their bedding - and then we go to another dog and pet that dog without washing our hands," Dr. Alexander said.

UW School of Veterinary Medicine officials recommend a two-vaccination protocol that will decrease the incidence and severity of disease in 90 percent of patients. Dr. Alexander says the best advice for dog owners is to get the vaccine as well. However, it can take 28 to 32 days for that vaccine to take effect, so Dr. Alexander says to keep your dog away from social settings during that period.