Upstate veterinarians warn of highly contagious dog flu outbreak

Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 10:44 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - There’s a new virus spreading in upstate, but it’s not harming you, it’s harming your dog. It’s called Canine Influenza or the dog flu. Some pet facilities have already sent notifications to pet owners and customers.

“I had no idea.  I had no idea until they sent it” said dog owner, Carli Frady.

Many other dog owners Fox Carolina spoke to on Thursday, Frady, had never heard of the dog flu. She got a little alarmed when her veterinarian sent an outbreak notice

“They wanted to make sure we were up to date on all of the shots to make sure that our pets were not showing any symptoms” she said.

Dr. Daniel Randall with Foothills Veterinary Hospital says you’ve probably never heard of the virus -  because it’s rare.

“It tends to pop up sporadically,” he said.

Dr. Randall has never heard of an outbreak in the upstate before. But recently, several dogs in a Spartanburg pet facility came down with a cough.

“A pretty nasty cough, sneezing, some of them will run a fever. It gets a lot of press because it’s very contagious” said Dr. Randall.

He says the number of dogs coming in with a cough was a sign there was an outbreak.

“We know that when large numbers of dogs are in a confined airspace that it spreads really quickly,” he said.

The highly contagious virus spreads from canine to canine through nose-to-nose contact and it’s airborne.

“Within a kennel setting, the number of dogs in the population that are going to get sick once it’s introduced, is usually somewhere between 80% and 100% of dogs” he said.

Thankfully, Dr. Randell says most dogs feel better after just a few days and there’s a way to avoid it.

“Bordetella, parainfluenza and influenza [vaccines] so, this is preventable. You know, we have good tools to try to immunize these dogs” he said.

Frady’s dog is all up to date on shots, but she says just knowing the virus is out there, she’ll be extra careful.

“I’m not going to take any chances taking her to a new place where I don’t really know the dogs,” said Frady.

Dr. Randall says they don’t have an exact idea of how many cases are in the upstate. That’s because test results can be costly and take days to get back. But the dog flu in most cases is mild, and can be cured with basic medications.