Charles H. Bronson, Commissioner

Department Press Release


09-20-2005

Dr. Sam Lamb
(850) 410-0900 or
Terence McElroy
(850) 488-3022

Bronson Alerts Public To Newly Emerging Canine Flu

TALLAHASSEE - Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson today alerted the public to an emerging canine respiratory disease that can mimic symptoms of “kennel cough” but is more serious and generally requires the attention of a veterinarian.

Known as “canine influenza” or “canine flu”, the disease is caused by a virus that recently has been identified by the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine researchers and has been responsible for severe respiratory disease outbreaks in the past year among racing greyhounds in Florida and other states.

The highly contagious virus is beginning to show up in dogs in shelters, boarding facilities and clinics in several areas of Florida, including Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Duval counties. And with Hurricane Katrina evacuees accompanied by pets temporarily relocating in numerous parts of Florida, Bronson believes that the disease could increase in coming weeks.

“We already have alerted veterinary practitioners throughout the state to be on the lookout for canine flu, and we believe it is prudent at this time to advise the public to be aware of symptoms of this respiratory ailment and to respond appropriately,” Bronson said.

Like “kennel cough”, symptoms of canine flu include a cough and nasal discharge - and sometimes fever and listlessness. The State Veterinarian’s Office, which is a division of Bronson’s department, recommends consulting with a veterinarian if the dog experiences severe symptoms or fails to respond to normal “kennel cough” therapy, which generally involves antibiotics.

Because canine flu is a newly-emerging disease, all dogs, regardless of breed or age, are susceptible to infection and have no naturally-acquired or vaccine-induced immunity. While most dogs that contract the disease experience what is regarded as the milder form of canine flu, some develop a more acute disease with clinical signs of pneumonia. Among the latter group, the mortality rate is between 1 and 5 percent.


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