Cases of canine influenza confirmed in Wilmington

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Veterinarians are concerned about the spread of canine influenza in the Cape Fear region.

According to the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association, there have been confirmed cases in Wilmington.

"One of the things that does make Wilmington have a bit of a scary potential as far as the spread of this virus is just how many people come here, especially in the summertime," said Dr. Josh Hower, a veterinarian from College Road Animal Hospital. "Tourists from all over the country come here and board their dogs at times here."

He's concerned because the dog flu is very contagious and very few pets are vaccinated for it.

However, every dog does not need to be vaccinated.

Hower is recommending vaccinations for dogs that frequently are around other dogs, at places like doggie daycare, dog parks, grooming and boarding facilities.

If your dog has symptoms, it's best to take your pup to the vet right away.

"It presents similar to what everyone knows as kennel cough – so coughing, nasal discharge, maybe some sneezing," he said. "The big thing with this virus versus other upper respiratory pathogens that are out there is a very dramatic fever that comes with this canine flu. Not everyone is going to be taking their dogs temperature at home but if they feel hot to the touch, they have a cough, they're weak, they're exercise intolerant, collapsing, that could be a sign that your dog's been exposed to this virus."

According to the NCVMA, North Carolina cities where cases have been confirmed include Morehead City, Wilmington, Sanford, Fuquay-Varina and Davidson.

"CIV (canine influenza virus) is not a reportable disease in North Carolina, this information has been voluntarily provided by veterinarians and diagnostic labs in North Carolina," said Claire Holley, Executive Director of NCVMA. "It is estimated that there have been a few dozen cases confirmed, but this is not definite. There have been two confirmed deaths reported in North Carolina. Even though there have been no new cases, dogs are still coughing, so the risk is still apparent. The best protection is to vaccinate your dog(s), especially if you visit dog parks, dog spas, and boarding facilities. The virus can be shed on clothing and passed along, so even if the dog did not come in direct contact with an infected dog, a human who did come in contact with an infected dog can pass it along to his/her dog."

For more information on the illness and prevention, click here.

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