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Veterinary Public Health Officials Warn Of Dog Flu Outbreak In L.A. County

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Jay Stapleton said his best bud, Fred, has never been sick. So he was surprised to hear that there was a dog flu outbreak in Los Angeles County.

"He [Fred] needs to go out every day and get his exercise. It does worry me. I'm not to the panic state yet," Stapleton said.

The H3N2 flu strain was first reported in Chicago in 2015. The latest outbreak is traced to the infected dogs rescued from Asia last month, according to Dr. Julio Lopez, who is a veterinarian at Studio City Animal Hospital.

According to Los Angeles County of Veterinary Public Health, more than 30 sick dogs have been quarantined, and eight others have been exposed.

So far, there are no cases reported outside of L.A. County.

"Dog owners should be aware that dog flu is a contagious disease. In most cases, it does cause mild sickness. But in the few, it can cause deadly pneumonia," Lopez explained.

He added that the canines most at risk are the very young, the very old or the ones with compromised immune systems.

Signs that your animal may be sick include coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, loss of appetite and fever - very similar to the human flu.

"This virus is highly infectious. Any dog that's infected and interacting with other dogs, there's that high possibility of transmitting the virus," Lopez said. "Therefore, if your dog has any signs of respiratory disease or sickness, it is recommended they stay at home. Don't take them to daycare. Don't take them to the dog park."

Dog owner Allison Conant said her dog's daycare warned her about the outbreak. "I feel like most dog owners are pretty responsible, and they take care of their animals," she said. "And we definitely do with him. We're responsible pit owners. So we try to be careful with him and who he interacts with."

Lopez said there is a dog flu vaccine available right now that covers this strain.

"The vaccine is recommended for those dogs that are in public spaces such as dog parks or even daycare. But if you have a dog that stays at home and is in your backyard, the chances of it being affected are very low," he said.

There is no evidence that humans can become sick with H3N2 canine influenza, according to veterinary public health officials.

Here are some recommendations for pet owners:

  • If you think your pet has the flu, keep it away from other animals and contact your veterinarian

  • Pets that frequently interact with other dogs should be vaccinated

  • Do not let a sick pet come in contact with other animals or share its food bowl, leash, toys or other supplies.

  • Wash your hands after touching your pet

Click here to report any suspected case of influenza in dogs or cats.

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