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Veterinarians warn of canine flu outbreak hitting Central Ohio

Veterinarians are suggesting keeping dogs away from dog parks during an outbreak of canine flu. (WSYX/WTTE)

Veterinarians say we are experiencing the worst outbreak of canine influenza ever in central Ohio.

At least 15 confirmed cases are reported in New Albany according to Dr. Scott Whiteman, who advised people to consider keeping their pets out of dog parks.

"It may get better once we have a freeze but the virus can remain on surfaces at least 48 hours," he said.

The first case was reported on October 17, according to Whiteman. The Centers for Disease Control, CDC keeps track of human cases of flu. But Whiteman said nobody tracks canine influenza so he wants to get the word out to pet owners.

At the Pet Resort, owner Gretchen Meinenburg closed the doggie day care for the weekend to disinfect and stop the spread of the flu.

"Puppies that don't have full immunity yet or older dogs, 8-10 year olds and up,their immune system could be compromised. Most veterinarians are just prescribing anti biotics for that secondary bacterial infection that they can develop from this which can lead to pneumonia," said Meinenburg.

Symptoms of the dog flu are similar to humans with nasal discharge, runny eyes, loss of appetite and a dry, hacking cough.

"Incubation is 2-to-8 days after exposure and then it could be anywhere from ten to 21 days that they start showing signs of it," said Meinenburg.

Many pet owners said they were unaware dogs can get the flu or that there are vaccines to prevent it.

"I have heard of it. But I don't know the symptoms. I don't know what to look for," said Mary Razek of Gahanna. "My dog has been coughing. I am going to first of all take him to the vet. As soon as I get back I will call for an appointment and have him checked out."

Vets said dogs cannot give their owners the flu and that cats won't get it either.

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