A canine flu reported in the Chicago area earlier this month is now taking hold on the Midwest.
Veterinarians are cautioning dog owners to keep their pets away from other dogs, saying the virus has made at least 1,000 dogs sick.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Veterinary says dogs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana are becoming sick with a virus.
Tests from the Wisconsin Veterinary diagnostic Laboratory have diagnosed the strain as H3N2.
Clinical assistant professor Keith Poulsen says that an older strain of the virus, H3N8, has also been detected in the region and that it’s not yet known how effective current vaccines are. He says they believe the virus arrived in the area from Asia.
Both strains of the viruses can cause a runny nose, fever and persistent cough in dogs. A small percentage of infected dogs can develop more severe symptoms. The H3N2 virus has been associated with some deaths.
Poulsen recommends dog owners with sick pets schedule a test for the virus outside the veterinary clinic. He also says that pet owners should not bring their dogs into areas where they can interact with other dogs.
“It’s really no different if you’re talking about dogs or toddlers, if you think they’re sick, don’t bring them to day care,” Poulsen said.
Veterinarians say that neither virus is related to the bird flu, nor is it contagious to humans, but the H3N2 strain could sicken cats.
Illinois vets say the amount of infected dogs is slowing, but are still coming in.