Local News

Sanford Dogs Only Documented Case Of Canine Flu In N.C.

Posted September 28, 2005

— The Keith family's boxers still have a lot of bark, even though they have been bitten by a bug -- a flu bug.

Just like the human version, their three dogs, along with their daughters' two dogs, have runny eyes, runny noses and a bad cough. The animals contracted the virus while on a family vacation at the beach 10 days ago.

"The vet said it was a case of the canine influenza and the best thing to do is treat them with Robitussin DM for cough," said the dogs' owner, Susan Keith.

Also, not unlike the human flu, the dog flu is very contagious among dogs. Veterinarians suggest that if a dog is infected that it should be isolated from other animals for at least two weeks. The dog flu, however, cannot be transmitted to humans.

So far, Keith's dogs are the only documented case of canine influenza in North Carolina. Nationally, studies say up to 8 percent of animals with the virus die.

Dr. Jon Shontz, who diagnosed Keith's dogs, says in a healthy dog the illness is treatable, but in dogs with medical problems it can be serious. Those dogs may need an antibiotic to prevent a secondary bacterial infection.

"(It's) very much a concern if the dog has any kind of complicating problems," Shontz said. "If they're very young or if they're very old, it could easily lead to pneumonias."

Researchers in Florida believe the flu started in horses, was passed to racing greyhounds and now, house pets in at least 10 states.

"New diseases are always going to come," Shontz said, "It's just a matter of how we react to them when they present themselves."

So far, Keith's dogs seem to be reacting well to the treatment.


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