First cases of dog flu reported in Florida

- University of Florida researchers say seven dogs statewide are confirmed to have H3N2, or the dog flu. It is the first time it has been detected in Florida.

Vets at Blue Pearl Animal Hospital say they have treated a suspected case in Sarasota.

"The biggest concern is that the dogs won't necessarily show signs when they have the potential to infect other dogs around them," said Dr. Erick Mears.

Mears says a pre-emptive vaccine might be a good idea, especially if your dog is often around other dogs.

It's similar to the human flu, so watch for fever, lethargy and a runny nose.

"It is generally not a life-threatening issue, but it is definitely very contagious," said Mears. "So if they do have a concern, they should call their veterinarian."

But they don't want infected dogs around other dogs, so they will likely prescribe home treatment. Sick dogs should also be kept away from dog parks and play dates.

"It would be tough because I live in an apartment., so this is like his playtime every day," said dog owner Jodie Hughes. "Taking him out of the park, it would just be him walking on the leash."

Vets expect the number of infected dogs to grow much higher than the current number of seven.

They expect it'll eventually be flushed out, the way it was in Georgia during an outbreak two years ago.

"It did get to a point with vaccines, awareness, decreasing exposure, we should be able to contain it, and then it will kind of work its way out," said Mears.

The University of Florida did not supply the locations of the dogs that are confirmed to have canine influenza.

For more information about dog flu, visit http://hospitals.vetmed.ufl.edu/canine-influenza.

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