Tests confirm two dogs at a Kent kennel were infected with dog flu, potentially marking the first cases of a highly contagious virus in Washington state.
Tests released late Wednesday showed two dogs housed at a Kent kennel were infected with canine influenza potentially marking the first cases of a highly contagious virus in Washington state.
Further testing will identify the specific strain, but “all signs point to novel H3N2 canine influenza,” a blog post by officials at Public Health — Seattle & King County reported.
That means the new bug that has sickened at least 2,000 dogs — and likely more — in 25 U.S. states since last spring has made its way to the Pacific Northwest.
Dog owners shouldn’t panic, experts said. The illness, which features symptoms including runny nose, cough and fever, is typically mild.
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But dogs can become sick within 24 hours of exposure and they’re contagious a few days before symptoms appear — and for weeks afterward.
Pet owners should keep sick dogs away from other animals and seek veterinary care if symptoms worsen. The virus is spread through direct contact among animals. It won’t infect people, but could affect cats and, possibly, ferrets and guinea pigs, research shows.
The outbreak sickened dozens of dogs — between 80 and 90 — at Holiday Kennels in Kent in late December, health officials said.
Bret Gagliardi, the kennel’s operator, said he shut down the business and contacted health officials after tests in Georgia indicated a dog from the kennel might have infected two other animals. After a thorough cleaning, he planned to reopen later this week.
The new strain of H3N2 canine influenza was first detected in the U.S. last March, when more than 1,000 dogs in Chicago and the Midwest fell ill. It has now spread widely, likely infecting thousands of dogs across the nation, a spokesman for the American Veterinary Medical Association said.