Five more dogs test positive for canine flu in southwestern Ontario

Five more dogs test positive for canine flu in southwestern Ontario

It says the five dogs that most recently tested positive for the virus were in "close contact" with the first two.

The health unit says there is no known risk to humans however there is some concern that the canine virus could mix with the human virus and cause some potential problems. Here's what they need to know.

Canine influenza, or dog flu, is spreading throughout the country.

The virus is not new and is already widespread in parts of Asia. There have also been several outbreaks in the USA, but Canada has never seen any cases until now.

The two original dogs were imported from South Korea (via the United States) in late December and were showing signs of respiratory disease the following day when they were examined by a veterinarian.

Veterinarians are warning dog owners to be careful when they take their pet to the dog park or to get groomed or boarded.

"It's really non-specific, there is nothing we can look at the dog and say "ok that dog has flu, ' versus 'that dog has something else", he said.

Dr. Scott Weese, an infectious disease specialist at the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph, says the symptoms of dog and human flus are essentially the same. If a dog catches it, they will feel exhausted, will cough and even have a runny nose.

"It's a concern because like any flu, canine flu can spread pretty widely through the dog population", Weese told Craig Norris, host of CBC K-W's The Morning Edition.

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-Most dogs that develop influenza do not get seriously ill.

How easily does it spread?

Weese says combined flu strains are more typical in birds or pigs, as they are more common mixing vessels of different flu viruses.

"Dogs have a lot of nose-to-nose, and that's where flu is shed".

Protecting dogs from canine flu is similar to protecting yourself from human flu.

Weese advises that, if you're out and see a dog that's coughing and looks sick, keep your dog away from that animal.

It's not just humans that can get the flu - your dog can too.

How much of a threat is canine influenza to humans?

As mentioned, it doesn't appear that humans can contract dog flu.

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