Hospital taking steps to control canine flu in Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Multiple cases of canine flu are being reported in the Louisville area, so experts at BluePearl Veterinary Partners are taking decisive action to help local pet owners keep their dogs safe.

This strain of the canine influenza virus, called H3N2, is highly contagious.  Dr. Scott Rizzo, medical director for BluePearl-Louisville, said the hospital has seen six confirmed cases of canine flu – including two fatalities – and at least 10-15 suspected cases.

In an effort to control the spread of this potentially dangerous disease, the hospital is setting up a mobile unit in its parking lot to treat suspected cases of canine flu without infecting other pets at the hospital. In addition, Dr. Rizzo and Dr. Grace Clark of BluePearl will host an informational session on canine flu for local veterinarians on Thursday, June 29 at Big Spring Country Club.

“We want to do everything we can to keep dogs in our area safe and healthy,” Dr. Rizzo said. “By taking some precautions, we can all work together to stop this dangerous disease from spreading.”

The H3N2 strain spreads quickly from dog to dog through particles in the air. Dogs in close contact at areas such as dog parks, dog shows, grooming parlors and kennels may be most at risk. Symptoms include sneezing, fever, nasal discharge, decreased appetite and general lethargy. In rare cases, it can lead to pneumonia and difficulty breathing.

“Canine flu is usually not life-threatening, but it is very contagious,” Dr. Rizzo added. “If you see these symptoms, it is very important to keep your dog away from other dogs and to contact your veterinarian.”

BluePearl clinicians are offering the following guidelines to help keep your dog safe from canine flu:

  • Do not take your dog straight to your veterinarian’s office if you suspect the canine flu. The first step is to make a telephone call to your primary veterinarian or an emergency veterinary hospital such as BluePearl.
  • Consider keeping your dog away from other dogs. In other words, you may wish to stay clear of the dog park.
  • A vaccine is available for the H3N2 canine influenza virus. Talk to your family veterinarian to see if this is a good choice for you.
  • Don’t panic. While canine flu is serious, the number of confirmed cases is relatively low. Take precautions and you can greatly reduce the chances of having your dog catch this flu.