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Intersection: How Canine Influenza Is Spreading Throughout Central Florida

Photo: Austin Community College on Flickr
Photo: Austin Community College on Flickr

How do you know if your dog has the flu? University of Florida veterinary professor of shelter medicine Cynda Crawford explains how a virulent strain of canine influenza spread through the state, how to identify symptoms, and why you should vaccinate your dog.

Crawford said the dog flu causes typical influenza-like symptoms like coughing, running nose, and a fever. Canine influenza spreads just like a human flu virus, through contact with other dogs that are infected.

Orlando is a popular destination for some of the larger dog shows in the country, which can make Orlando a high risk location, Crawford said.

"Right now, the greater Orlando area, the Central Florida area is a hot spot for canine influenza. We know that it started there with some show dogs," she said.

"It spilled over into at least three boarding facilities were pet dogs became infected. And then it spilled over into animal shelters."

Crawford said the canine flu vaccine is completely safe for dogs. If a dog is not vaccinated and gets infected they are at risk for progressing to a life threatening pneumonia if not treated.

"If their dog gets infected and is one of the two out of ten progressed to that life threatening pneumonia requiring hospital care, the bill will be in thousands of dollars," Crawford said.

"It's sort of that old adage 'an ounce of prevention versus a pound of cure'."