CBSN

Outbreak of canine influenza worries dog owners

CHICAGO -- An outbreak of canine influenza is reaching epidemic proportions, CBS Chicago reports.

Veterinarians say the illness has sickened hundreds of dogs in the Chicago area, and the infection can be deadly.

Veterinarian Natalie Marks of Blum Animal Hospital says in the last week alone, more than 70 dogs have been diagnosed with canine influenza, a much more serious illness than the common "kennel cough."

And it's not just a Chicago problem. "It's everywhere," Marks says. "There have been a few fatalities."

Lulu is one pup now in isolation because of influenza. Her owner says Lulu fell ill days after going to a doggie daycare center for the first time.

The illness is highly contagious and can be transmitted for a week after symptoms subside. Veterinarians say pneumonia often develops in dogs that have influenza, sometimes with little warning.

Veterinarians recommend keeping dogs out of daycares, boarding facilities and dog parks until the outbreak subsides. A canine flu vaccine is also available.