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August 28, 2013

Washington Area Residents Cautioned On Recent Dog Flu Outbreak

News outlets in the Washington, D.C. area have reported that the Maryland Department of Agriculture identified six dogs infected with canine influenza in Montgomery County last week, and two of the sick dogs have died. The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association cautions dog owners in the area to be on the lookout for signs of the highly contagious disease, which can cause an acute respiratory infection.

“Washington area residents should contact their veterinarians if they notice their dogs showing respiratory symptoms such as coughing, runny nose and fever,” said Barry Kellogg, VMD, senior veterinary medical advisor for the HSVMA. “They may also want to inquire if it’s appropriate to vaccinate their dogs. Vaccination can reduce the susceptibility and severity of the disease if they do become exposed.”

The number of dogs infected with this disease becoming seriously ill is very small (less than eight percent) and the virus can’t be passed to humans, but in rare cases it can cause onset of pneumonia in affected dogs.

As with any disease outbreak, it is wise to avoid places where dogs congregate, such as dog parks. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the so-called dog flu can be spread by direct contact with infected dogs, contaminated objects and through people moving between infected and uninfected dogs.

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