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EquineFlu Spreading to Dogs

EquineFlu Spreading to Dogs

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Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingA common health problem for humans is now beginning to be a problem for dogs. Researchers have found a strain of the flu in dogs from as many three states.

This canine influenza has been found already in Florida, New York, and a possible case in Massachusetts. What's really interesting is this is another example of a virus jumping from one species to another.

It is a mutated version of the equine flu virus common in horses. It was originally found in racing greyhounds, however now there have been reported cases in domestic dogs.

Like human influenza, dog flu is highly contagious; it's spread through coughing and sneezing. A dog can pick it up while out on a walk, but those most at risk live with many other dogs in shelters or kennels.

Carol Maul, Dog Owner: "Not really concerned. I think if I went to a kennel or had a lot of other dogs around I might, but right now they're in the house, right in the yard, or out with me.

Researchers say it can be fatal in 5-8% of cases. They also say it is very unlikely that it will spread to humans. Researchers are collecting samples from suspicious cases across the country to see where the virus has spread.

There have never been any documented cases of equine flu in humans. The research indicates that it was able to spread to dogs because of changes in amino acids in the genes of the virus. So if the genes can mutate and spread to dogs, you have to wonder if it can eventually mutate enough to spread to humans.

About 80-percent of the dogs tested had only a mild form of the flu. A small minority experienced serious complications like pneumonia.

You don't need to keep Fido away from other dogs. The only confirmed cases are on the east coast. If it travels west, it would have to travel in an infected dog.

Researchers are, however, recommending that veterinarians be aware of the possibility of this disease existing in their patients. The symptoms mimic a common illness called "kennel cough." there is some concern that it may be more widespread than we know, but just misdiagnosed.

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