The first known confirmed case of the dog flu in Champaign-Urbana has reinforced the importance of having dogs receive the vaccine and avoiding other canines.
The University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital reported last week that it had inspected a patient that was later confirmed to have influenza. The dog, which resides in Urbana, was inspected while in the confines of the owner’s car. UI vets conducted their exam within the car and then discarded their protective biohazard clothing.
“We are prepared to follow biosecurity measures to ensure that the virus will not pose a threat to our patients,” said Dr. Laura Garrett, chief of staff at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
The dog has been voluntarily quarantined at its home by the owner. The animal had recently been kenneled in Chicago, where more than 1,100 confirmed cases have been reported with at least six deaths.
While the vaccine is not guaranteed to prevent the flu, it is a preventative measure to slow the spread of the virus. A booster is required about three weeks after the initial dose.
“We are recommending it,” said Tona Robinson of The Pet Pro in Champaign.
Cost is $35, which includes the booster. Robinson said The Pet Pro’s vet, Dr. Todd Lykins, has not encountered a confirmed case of dog flu this year.
Beyond that, dog owners are advised to have their animals avoid places where the flu can be spread readily, such as kennels and dog parks, until the outbreak is over.
“Avoidance of exposure is the name of the game now,” said Dr. Brendan McKiernan, director of the UI Veterinary Teaching Hospital and a specialist in respiratory diseases in dogs and cats.
The dog flu contains similar symptoms to the human flu. Humans cannot get it, but they can spread it. It typically creates mild symptoms in dogs such as cough, runny nose and fever.