STUDIO CITY (CBSLA.com) — A dangerous and sometimes deadly virus that has affected thousands of dogs in the Midwest has shown up in California.
On Thursday, Eryn Elliott took a handful of dogs to the dog park in Studio City despite news that the canine influenza or dog flu had appeared in San Francisco and San Diego.
"I would just still come and have a good time and not worry about it until something does happen, then you know you take the precautionary measures and do what you can," said Elliott, a dog walker.
The virus has affected thousands of dogs in 13 states and is now in California.
"It's slowly going to spread. To what degree? To how many animals are going to be affected? We just don't know," said Jeff Werber, a West Los Angeles veterinarian. "It spread through contact, as with people, with the respiratory secretions, so it's airborne."
Werber says pet owners should look out for respiratory signs, nasal discharge, ocular discharge, sneezing and coughing.
"This cannot be spread to humans. It only has been seen in animals," he said. "They've seen it in cats and, of course, dogs."
Experts say treating a dog with the flu is similar to treating a human with the flu.
"We usually put these animals on antibiotics and fluid support support if they're very sick to help build up their immune system," he said. "Their immune system has to beat the virus itself."
So far, Werber says, about six dogs have died from the flu.
"The only cases really of death have been in animals that were already compromised either very young or very old," he said. "Typically healthy, well-vaccinated, well-cared for pet really should be OK."
While there is a vaccine for the dog flu, Werber says it has not been very effective.
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