With the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies control reporting over 1,000 cases of canine flu, and five reported fatalities, canine influenza has become a hot topic among dog owners in Chicago.  Because it is a relatively new virus, any dog that hasn't been vaccinated is at risk. Here is what you need to know about the infection closing dog parks in Chicago:  

It is a viral cause of kennel cough, and can be airborne, spread by people who have contact with multiple pets, and transmitted throught direct contact. It does not survive long in the environment, (like on surfaces) but droplets can be a source of contamination as well.  

Canine influenza is quickly diagnosed and treated, and has a low fatality rate. Deaths are usually caused by secondary infections, like pneumonia.  

You cannot catch the virus from your pet, nor can your non-canine pets catch it.  

Symptoms are similar to those in humans (coughing, sneezing, fever, lethargy, loss of appetite) and can take up to ten days to show.  

A vaccination does exist, but takes thirty days to be effective. One vaccine is given, and then another roughly two weeks later. So even fourteen days after the second injection, pets are at risk.  

If you think your pet may have influenza, isolate him/her from all other dogs and contact your veterinarian. Typically the virus is diagnosed through examination and a series of tests. To help reduce risks, and prevent the spread of the virus,wash you hands before and after playing with pets. Again, the virus isn't a death sentence, but who wants to get the flu when it can be avoided?

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