Outbreak of canine flu prompting vaccinations

MILPITAS, Calif. (KFSN) -- In the South Bay, a flu that affects dogs has been spreading fast. The outbreak has now caused many doggy daycares and kennels to temporarily shut down to prevent the virus from spreading.

Willow, a playful yellow labrador, started coughing Friday morning. She went to doggy daycare, but the staff there immediately sent her to the veterinarian.

"I'm a nurse myself I work at El Camino hospital and we're crazy with patients with the flu up there so, of course, when I came here and now my dog has the flu. It's a little disconcerting because it's serious," said Karen Thomas, Willow's owner.

Canine influenza is very contagious. It's difficult to initially detect because a dog can have the flu, but the symptoms don't show up until a few days later. Dr. Dave Reed owns the dog daycare and animal hospital. They're treating many dogs.

"I'd say 20 at this point and Doctor Johnson who is over there right now administering to them right now had two more positive cases today so this really is a severe problem," said Dr. Reed.

Many kennels and dog care facilities in the area closed today because of the outbreak. At Dr. Dave's, signs are posted alerting dog owners of the symptoms which include a fever, cough, and loss of appetite.

Dr. Dave's is shutting down his doggie daycare for at least a week. When it reopens, they will only take dogs that have been vaccinated.

The vaccine is a series of two shots taken a few weeks apart. It then takes a couple of weeks for the protection to work. Willow is now on antibiotics and will avoid contact with other dogs.

"We'll just keep her at home and take good care of her," said Thomas.

Most infected dogs recover, but in rare cases, the flu can lead to pneumonia and death.
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