Canine Flu Outbreak Hits Chicago, Sickens More Than 1,000 Dogs

More than 1,000 dogs have come down with canine flu, authorities said.

The Chicago Park District began posting warning signs at dog parks last week advising dog owners to keep their pets away from any place where there is close contact with other dogs, a spokeswoman for the organization said. Over the weekend the group canceled their annual doggy Easter egg hunt held at a local dog park to prevent the spread of the illness.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in respiratory cases over the past month, about 50 to 100 between all of our partner hospitals,” said Dr. Anne Cohen, an emergency and critical care specialty veterinarian at Chicago Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center.

Canine flu symptoms are a lot like human symptoms and include fever, cough, nasal discharge and lack of energy, Cohen said. And just like human flu it can be caught from sneezes and coughs, nose-to-nose contact or from infected surfaces. Symptoms last for about two weeks until the virus runs its course.

Canine flu is actually somewhat rare but highly contagious when it does strike, Cohen said. Dogs that spend a lot of time socializing at parks, day care or the groomers are the most likely to get sick.

“This isn’t a typical vaccination we give but because of the outbreak we’re recommending it for all high-risk dogs,” Cohen said.

Thankfully, canine flu is rarely fatal, veterinarians said. Anyone concerned about their furry friend catching a case should consult with their veterinarian.

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