A new strain of dog flu is spreading across the country and officials in Tucson are on the lookout for any local cases.
Pima Animal Care said they received reports of two local cases of this new dog flu strain but after further research determined that there are no confirmed cases in Tucson or Pima County. They are still on the lookout for any signs of the flu in their pets. The Humane Society of Southern Arizona also says they expect to see the flu soon, though no pets in their care have become ill.
This particular strain of dog flu called H3N2 was first detected last April when an outbreak in Chicago affected more than 1,000 dogs.
Noreen Beecroft says she often takes her dogs to the Udall dog park and her vet recently recommended she have them vaccinated against this strain of dog flu.
"It's not worth not spending that extra 15, 20, 30 bucks that you need to spend you know to keep your dogs healthy," she said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, common symptoms of the dog flu include cough, runny nose and fever.
"Respiratory viruses are very contagious," said Dr. Beth Davidow, a veterinarian in Washington where a possible outbreak was recently reported. "We see kennel cough more often which is much more common and influenza looks a lot in some cases like kennel cough."
Very few deaths have been reported from this flu and some dogs may show no symptoms at all. But doctors warn that even though dogs can't spread the illness to humans, we can spread it to other dogs.
"It's airborne so dog coughs on you, you pet another dog you can give it to another dog," said Davidow.
A vaccine for this strain of flu was conditionally released in November. The American Veterinary Medical Association says since last May, 2,000 dogs have been confirmed positive for H3N2 across the U.S.