The MSPCA Angell Animal Medical Center is encouraging dog owners to vaccinate their canine companions after veterinarians at the center treated its second-ever confirmed case of the dog flu earlier this month.
A 6-month-old poodle was taken to the animal medical center Aug. 12 with a high fever and a “hacking cough,” according to a statement from Rob Halpin, an MSPCA spokesman. Suspecting a possible case of dog flu, the hospital activated its emergency infection control plan and treated the dog in isolation. The dog was released two days later.
The poodle was treated with fluids and antibiotics, and all of the surfaces in the center’s critical care unit were disinfected throughout the treatment process to mitigate the spread of the highly contagious virus, said Virginia Sinnot, a veterinarian at the center’s emergency unit, according to an MSPCA statement.
The dog’s owner told vets that the poodle had not been in any of the states that had reported dog flu outbreaks, including New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and California, meaning that “canine flu has officially arrived in Massachusetts,” Halpin said in the statement.
While the canine flu virus is “extremely easy to kill,” the disease is very contagious, the statement said. Dogs can spread the virus to other dogs weeks before and after they experience symptoms themselves, and dogs with preexisting respiratory issues that get the flu are more likely to contract pneumonia, according to the MSPCA statement.
The vaccine against the dog flu is about 60 percent effective, but the chances of a dog contracting the flu when exposed to the virus are almost 100 percent. No other dogs were exposed to the virus during the poodle’s stay at the medical center, according to the statement.
Flu-ridden dogs are typically sick for 10 to 20 days and can experience a runny nose, decreased activity, coughing, decreased appetite, and general discomfort, according to the statement.
The medical center is asking that anyone whose dog exhibits these symptoms take them to an animal hospital, and that dog owners vaccinate their dogs to prevent the disease from spreading in the first place.