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The epidemic canine flu virus that has sickened more than 1,000 dogs in the Chicago area, as well as dogs in Wisconsin and Indiana, has now reportedly spread to Texas and Georgia.
The flu has also claimed its sixth victim. Johnny Suede, a 3-year-old Chihuahua, died earlier this month at the P.A.W.S. animal shelter in Tinley Park, Ill., about 30 miles from Chicago.
“We gave him IV fluids, antibiotics, nebulizer treatments, you name it,” Cindy Staros, a shelter volunteer, told WLS. “He just couldn’t pull through.”
Most of the dogs at P.A.W.S. have been infected with the virus. Since they can be contagious for up to 21 days, the shelter is temporarily closed.
This dog flu was originally thought to be H3N8, a strain that first appeared in the U.S. in 2004 at a Greyhound racing track in Florida, sickening dozens of the dogs, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Since then, H3N8 has been reported in 30 states.
But in April, scientists confirmed the current epidemic is actually the strain H3N2. There have been outbreaks of H3N2 in China and South Korea since 2006, but it had never before been identified in the U.S. It is believed to have been brought here by a dog from Asia.
Most at risk for becoming infected are puppies, older dogs and dogs with weakened immune systems. After sickening an estimated 1,300 dogs in the Midwest, the flu outbreak is now moving south.
The first case of H3N2 in Texas was reported May 13. The affected dog and his family had recently moved to the Houston area from Chicago, according to NBC DFW.
The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine alerted veterinarians Friday that a dog in Athens, Ga., has been confirmed to have the flu, although it has not yet been determined whether it’s H3N2 or H3N8. The dog had recently been in contact with others at a boarding facility in Atlanta, FOX 5 reports.
Click here for tips on preventing your dog from getting the H3N2 virus.
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