More than one thousand and three-hundred dogs have been infected and six have died!
Scientists have tracked the virus to a rare strain of bird flu from Asia.
Whether the current vaccine is effective against this strain, has not been determined, but vets are advising dog owners to have their pets immunized nonetheless!
Related: Does Your Labrador Need A Flu Shot?
Vets also urge dog owners to keep their dogs away from strange dogs to keep the virus from spreading.
At this time many Snowbirds are making their way back to their home states together with their dogs. How can they protect their dogs from the potentially deadly virus during their travel?
Dr. Patricia Mattson of Companion Animal Hospital in Lakeland had the following advice on Wednesday for a client headed back home to Canada through the Midwest.
Do not to let your Labrador sniff closely with other dogs at travel stops. The available flu vaccine will not help in this case because the series takes 2-4 weeks.
Whether the current vaccine will help at all has not been established. This Asian strain has never made it to the United States. It is unclear whether if the canine flu vaccine will protect against this strain.
“It might help, it might not but I think it’s the only thing we have out there to try to help give them some protection,” Mattson said.
Mattson added that the flu typically spreads in larger metropolitan areas and in dogs that go to dog parks and day care centers.
“It can become very, very serious for that pet especially our older and or younger patients they’re the ones more susceptible just the same as it is for humans,” Mattson said.
Canine flu symptoms include high fevers, lethargy and upper respiratory issues.
The strain is not contagious to humans, vets say.