Dog Flu Started With Horses

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

September 26, 2005

Coughing, sneezing, and sniffling is a recipe for the flu--but did you know your dog can get it too?

This disease known as "dog flu" stems from a virus found in horses. Veterinarian Dr. Amy Gillian researched the disease and says it was first discovered in greyhound racing dogs who shared a track with horses.

"[It involves a] very bad cough, nasal discharge, high fever, but it progressed to hemorrhagic phenomena. They were actually drowning in their [own] blood in their chest became very very ill and died very quickly," said Gillian.

The form that's spreading now, however, isn't nearly as serious and usually goes away in five to ten days with milder symptoms.

"[It now involves] severe cough, possibly a nasal discharge, high fever, lethargy...those kinds of things," said Gillian.

It's spread through coughing and sneezing, just like humans.

"It can be spread on bowls, it can be spread on kennel doors, it can be spread from a handler or leashes perhaps if the dog has sneezed on that," said Gillian.

Dogs are most likely to contract it in dense situations like kennels.

"Some of the dog shows, indoor shows, they've been having reports of this dog flu going around, and some people have unfortunately lost some dogs from it," said Elizabeth Huffman Dog Handler and Trainer.

It's recently been reported in New York City and Florida shelters, however, there are no confirmed reports in Virginia.

People can't catch it from dogs or horses nor can they give it to them.

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