Canine flu cases spike in Chicago area

(File photo)

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago-area officials are cautioning dog owners that a recent surge in cases of canine flu could last for several weeks.

Donna Alexander of the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control said Friday veterinarians have identified more than 1,000 cases of canine infectious respiratory disease, or canine flu. Vets have reported five deaths.

Dog owners were advised to avoid dog parks and keep their pets away from other dogs for now. Dogs can be contagious without showing symptoms.

The condition can cause lingering coughs, lethargic behavior, poor appetite and fever. It’s not contagious to humans and won’t spread to cats either. But a person who’s been in contact with a dog carrying the virus can inadvertently spread it to another dog. Alexander recommended hand-washing after petting a dog to prevent the spread.

Vets in West Michigan told 24 Hour News 8 on Tuesday that they have not seen an increase in the number of canine flu cases locally, but that they have gotten more calls from clients asking about it.

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