Dog owners should get their pets vaccinated now before Canine Influenza is reported in Orange County, animal services officials said Tuesday.
The highly contagious airborne virus, also called Canine Flu, can be spread through close proximity to infected dogs. Two fatal cases of Canine Flu have been confirmed in North Carolina, according to Rollins Laboratories, including one in the Raleigh area and the other in Morehead City.
The North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association also reports confirmed cases in Carteret, Rockingham, Wake and Davidson counties.
Dogs can carry and spread the virus without showing any symptoms, Orange County Animal Services officials said. Symptoms, which typically show within two to four days of exposure, can include coughing, decreased appetite, lethargy, eye discharge, nasal discharge and fever.
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The best prevention is vaccinating your dogs, animal services officials said. Dogs can get the vaccine from local veterinarians and must get a follow-up booster shot within two to three weeks of being initially vaccination, they said. Dogs are not protected until four to five weeks after receiving the shots.
Most dogs will recover from Canine Flu with proper treatment. If you suspect your pet may have been exposed to the virus, animal services officials advise calling your veterinarian.
They also recommend:
▪ Limiting your dog’s exposure to other dogs, including at dog parks, pet-friendly stores, dog shows, boarding facilities and similar venues.
▪ Do not let your dog drink from public water bowls, and beware of other items that can carry the virus, such as food bowls, leashes, crates and clothing. Cleaners with bleach will kill the virus.
▪ Humans should practice good sanitation after contact with other dogs or after visiting areas where dogs routinely can be found. Change your shoes and clothes, and wash your hands thoroughly. People can pick up the virus in public areas and unintentionally carry it home to their pets.
▪ Isolate sick pets and keep them isolated for 30 days after symptoms fade.
You can get more information about canine influenza at bit.ly/2sxXxTK.