Spike in canine flu hits Louisville: BluePearl offers tips for keeping dogs safe

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A sudden wave of new canine flu cases has hit the BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital in Louisville, so veterinarians are reminding pet owners of ways to stop the highly contagious disease.

“The public and the veterinary community are doing a great job of fighting canine influenza, but there are still some misconceptions,” said BluePearl’s Dr. Scott Rizzo, who is board-certified in veterinary internal medicine. “Remember that even if your dogs have been vaccinated, you still need to keep them away from other dogs who may be infected.”

Although BluePearl and the entire Louisville-area veterinary community have taken steps to get canine influenza under control, this sudden spike is a surprise and a reminder that public awareness about the disease is important.

BluePearl veterinarians have treated over 200 dogs for canine influenza in the past 45 days.  The majority of the dogs tested have had the highly contagious H3N2 flu virus. Louisville is presently the most active canine influenza flu virus center in the United States.

BluePearl, which specializes in emergency and specialty veterinary care, has been fighting the disease aggressively. The hospital staff set up an auxiliary medical care unit, a free-standing trailer where dogs can be treated without the danger of infecting other patients in the main hospital building.

BluePearl and Merck also recently held a Canine Influenza Summit to share information with the local veterinary community. Additional information meetings are being scheduled for both boarders and veterinarians.

Here are some additional tips for the general public:

  • Many primary care veterinarians in Kentucky and Indiana can vaccinate your dog against the H3N2 virus, but this is not a 100 percent guarantee your dog will not get the flu.
  • Keep your dog away from others at dog parks or other places where there are a large number of dogs who may have been exposed to the virus. Be cautious having your dog close to others who have recently been in dog shows. Again, this is true even if your dog has been vaccinated.
  • Watch for symptoms of canine flu, including coughing, sneezing, fever, nasal discharge, decreased appetite, fever and general lethargy.
  • If you notice these symptoms, call your family vet – don’t just show up in the lobby, because your dog could infect others. Follow their instructions on when and where to be examined.
  • Talk to your family veterinarian about the pros and cons of having your dog vaccinated against the H3N2 canine influenza virus. (Note: BluePearl does not provide or administer the vaccinations. This is done by the primary care veterinarian.)

“We want to remind everyone about what they can do to keep their dogs safe,” Rizzo said. “This virus is very contagious, and it is important that every dog owner in the area be aware of what to do.”