GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — State officials are asking pet owners to take extra precautions after a spike in dog flu cases across Michigan.
"There is no natural immunity to this virus in the canine population, so all dogs are susceptible when they're exposed," Wealthy Street Animal Hospital veterinarian Dr. Sarah Privette said.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says the number of confirmed cases in less than a month is nearly five-fold the total case count for last year. MDARD has tallied 49 confirmed cases of canine influenza since July 13; in comparison, state officials handled nine reports of dog flu during the entire year of 2017.
State officials say six counties are affected, including Kent and Ottawa. As of Aug. 2, Ottawa County had ten confirmed cases of dog flu and Kent County had one.
Privette theorized the spike is linked to an outbreak in Chicago in 2015 and likely spread to West Michigan as people traveled.
Dog flu symptoms include fever, lethargy, coughing, runny nose and eye discharge.
"It's most of the time, an upper respiratory infection," Privette said. "It can be more severe. Some dogs can get pneumonia and there can be deaths from this."
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