FYI - I heard a news report today about a flu epidemic that is making dogs very sick in Chicago. Seems to be spreading like wildfire. It can't be contracted by humans, but the only way to keep dogs from getting it is to keep them away from other dogs.

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I just heard this too but no details...bummer. We have the avian flu in MN...hundreds of thousands of turkeys have had to be killed

OMG! That's terrible. Poor farmers and turkeys. I just checked with our local vet and they aren't seeing the canine flu here but the vaccine is $30. if it shows up. It seems pretty severe with a number of fatalities so the vaccine sounds worth considering.

It's times like this I'm glad we live in the country. Dogs have to get out so it could be a mess in big cities.

Humans can't catch it, but can they carry it?  For example, if a Chicago person's dog has it, and that person gets on a plane and lands in Missouri, can he spread the epidemic there?  Sometimes humans can carry the germs on their shoes or cloths.   I wonder how it got started in Chicago. 

Apparently, based on the word from our vet's office, it can't be passed between humans and dogs, but the germs that dogs carry can be spread to other dogs by humans as you mentioned, by not washing after doggy runs and such, so careful hygiene practices are important. I live in the county as well, but everyone I know has a dog so it is hard to avoid dog to dog contact, despite the fact that we have no dog parks and day care programs nearby. I have nothing against dog parks and doggy day care, but the numbers go up, I assume in such settings. I may be wrong, but close contact, as in boarding and shelter settings, is probably more risky, but it is like any flu. It hits where it hits and it can be unpredictable. 

I never thought of shelters...I will have to watch if we start getting this in MN. I volunteer with the cats at our local shelter BUT also get to rehome any corgis that they get and the dog shelter is right next to the cat shelter:(

My cousin's  dog is recovering from this right now. She lives in the Chicago area. Very scary!

Wow Bev, so scary and sad. I may schedule the vaccine to be safe, but I wonder if the vaccine is only effective for certain strains as we have experienced with human influenza. Hard call to make, but I feel bad for people in the Chicago area. That sounds so scary.

Lois is right , in laymans terms, it's the equivalent of Influenza A, which is bad.  My son's dog had picked up a respiratory issue from being boarded over spring break, but she was negative for the flu but is on meds.
People can't get the dog flu, but handwashing is important, same rules as with the people flu. The virus at ideal conditions could last a few hours, depends on whether it's a hard surface, temperature etc.  Most likely petting an infected  dog and then petting another without washing hands. Chances are being transferred on planes, I'd guess is almost nil-never say never, though. Now people flu on the other hand-when the person is sick and on the plane-absolutely

Shelters could be one of the worst places, we seem to have more issues with cat diseases and switched to metal dishes and litter pans (any but plastic)

Traditionally, dogs haven't gotten influenza.  Does anyone know what H and N type this virus is?  I will try to search for info tomorrow.

For reference, I saw it on the Today show. My local vet in New England has heard about it, but it hasn't shown up yet in this area.

Here is some information that I got from a CDC Website.  The H stands for hemagglutinin and the N stands for neuraminidase which are 2 proteins on the surface of the virus which have separate functions.  They are the usual targets of vaccines.

 FROM CDC: How long has canine influenza been around?

The H3N8 equine influenza virus has been known to exist in horses for more than 40 years. In 2004, however, cases of an unknown respiratory illness in dogs (initially greyhounds) were reported. An investigation showed that this respiratory illness was caused by the equine influenza A H3N8 virus. Scientists believe that this virus jumped species (from horses to dogs) and has now adapted to cause illness in dogs and spread among dogs housed in kennels and shelters. This is now considered a dog-specific lineage of H3N8. In September of 2005, this virus was identified by experts as “a newly emerging pathogen in the dog population” in the United States.

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When several dogs are housed together in kennels, it is like the crowding we have with people in the winter.  The more people or animals that are crowded together, the greater the likelyhood of transmission of the virus..  Influenza is transmitted by aerosol most commonly (sneezing or coughing) but those droplets can fall on objects which others touch and can infect themselves with.  This generally happens my rubbing eyes, scratching nose, etc.  I sure hope they get enough vaccinated to bring the epidemic under control.

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