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Northwoods veterinarian responds to canine influenza concernsSubmitted: 04/14/2015
Northwoods veterinarian responds to canine influenza concerns
Story By Lauren Stephenson

RHINELANDER - Scientists and veterinarians don't know if vaccines will effectively prevent influenza in dogs.

The virus has infected more than 1,000 dogs in the Midwest, including many in the Chicago area and one in the Madison area.

The virus hasn't made it to the Northwoods yet, but veterinarians at the Animal Health Care Center in Rhinelander have already received a lot of calls from worried owners.

Dr. Kerry Hagen, a veterinarian at the Animal Health Care Center, says there are some symptoms owners should look out for.

"Fever is a big one. It's a pretty high fever that they'll get," she says. "You know, lethargic, cough, nasal discharge. It kind of looks like kennel cough.".

Hagen doesn't recommend owners get their dogs vaccinated, because the vaccines are only designed to fight the H3N8 strain of the virus. Hagen says the vaccine will likely not affect the H3N2 strain that's currently going around.

"Vaccines lower [pets'] immune system for a period of time as well and, you know, my suggestion is to try to keep them as healthy as possible so they don't contract this," Hagen adds.

She says if a vaccine comes out that treats the H3N2 strain, she would recommend dogs get vaccinated.

Newswatch 12 called three other veterinarians in the area. Two recommend owners get their dogs vaccinated, one did not.

Veterinarians suggest you leave your pets at home if you plan to travel, especially to areas where pets have become infected. If you can't leave your dogs at home, however, there are a few precautions you should keep in mind.

"Avoid dog parks or, you know, pet stores or places where animals are going to congregate where the virus could spread," Hagen says.

The virus can spread through the air when dogs cough or sneeze. Humans can't get sick from the virus, but they can spread it.

"If you pet a dog that's infected and then go pet your dog, you can transmit it," Hagen explains.

The virus can also cause respiratory illness in cats. Veterinarians suggest you wash your hands to help prevent the spread of the illness.

A link to more information on canine influenza can be found below.

Related Weblinks:
Canine influenza virus information

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