11Alive Staff, WXIA 7:17 p.m. EDT May 20, 2015
ATHENS, GA – The same strain of dog flu that has killed pets in the Midwest has been detected in a dog in the metro Atlanta area, according to the University of Georgia Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories. And protecting man's best friend from the potentially deadly virus may involve a low-tech approach for now.
The Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory said it identified the first positive case of Canine influenza in Georgia on May 15. The infected dog was coughing, had fever, lethargy and anorexia. It was up to date on its DHLPP, Rabies and Bordetella vaccinations. The affected dog had been in contact with other dogs at a metro Atlanta boarding facility, according to UGA officials. Officials have not revealed which boarding facility the affected dog was in.
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But the most common way to avoid viruses like dog flu - vaccinations - won't work in this case, officials are now saying. That's because there is no vaccine for this specific strain just yet - only the older more common version. And while some boarding facilities are stepping up vaccination requirements others are taking a wait-and-see approach and not requiring them. "Our local vets don't recommend that we require this vaccine. They've informed us that it give them zero protection to this strain," an employee of Dog Days Boarding in Buckhead said.
The contagious flu strain, known as H3N2, has killed at least 8 dogs and sickened more than 1,700 in the Chicago area, according to NBC News. Symptoms to watch for in your pet include coughing, nasal discharge and lethargy.
Dogs that are kept at day cares, parks, or kennels are often considered "high risk." So that's why veterinarians are keeping the owners and operators of these facilities in the loop to spot the symptoms early. "The great thing is we've notified the boarding kennels of what to look for and identifying these dogs very quickly," Veterinarian Dr. Duffy Jones said. "If they start to show any signs they can isolate them."