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Florida Confirms First Dog Flu Cases

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Health officials in Florida have confirmed seven cases of H3N2 canine influenza.

A news release from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced Tuesday that these cases of “dog flu” have been confirmed, with the help of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, US News reports. There are six more test results pending.

The statement added that all dogs being treated are in stable condition, and the virus has not been shown to affect people. H3N2 has been affecting animals across the country since 2015, but these are the first confirmed cases in Florida.

On the bright side, officials say that the death rate for dog flu is relatively low, and most dogs get better at home without suffering from further complications. In worse-case scenarios, some might have to go the clinic or require hospitalization. But the flu is highly contagious and may infect cats. If left untreated, it could lead to pneumonia.

Dr. Marta Lista of Trail Animal Hospital said,

It’s very contagious, so you have to be careful. Most dogs don’t have immunity and they don’t have vaccines.

According to the Miami Herald, symptoms of dog flu include coughing, sneezing, runny noses, fever and lethargy. Pet owners should take their dogs to a vet immediately upon noticing any of these, and sick dogs should be quarantined for at least four weeks.

Dogs have no natural immunity to H3N2, and the virus can live for as long as 24 hours. This means pets can be infected by simple exposure to places like grooming parlors or dog parks. Outbreaks commonly occur is places where dogs come in close contact with each other, such as kennels. Almost all dogs that are exposed get infected, though just 80% develop symptoms.

The flu was first identified in China, Korea and Thailand. Scientists believe the virus, which originally affected birds, evolved to include dogs that were roaming around public fowl markets.

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