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The Newly Emerging Canine Flu

Veterinarians are alerting the public to an emerging canine respiratory disease that can mimic symptoms of "kennel cough" but is more serious and generally requires the attention of a veterinarian.

Known as "canine influenza" or "canine flu," the disease is caused by a virus that recently has been identified by researchers and has been responsible for severe respiratory disease outbreaks in the past year among racing greyhounds.

The highly contagious virus is beginning to show up in dogs in shelters, boarding facilities and almost anywhere that dogs interact.

Like "kennel cough," symptoms of canine flu include a cough and nasal discharge - and sometimes fever and drowsiness. It is recommended to consul with your veterinarian if your dog experiences severe symptoms or fails to respond to normal "kennel cough" therapy, which generally involves antibiotics.

Because canine flu is a newly-emerging disease, all dogs, regardless of breed or age, are susceptible to infection and have no naturally-acquired or vaccine-induced immunity. While most dogs that contract the disease experience what is regarded as the milder form of canine flu, some develop a more acute disease with clinical signs of pneumonia. Among the latter group, the mortality rate is between 1 and 5 percent.

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