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Tag: outbreak

Chicago dog owners warned to not let their dogs socialize with other dogs


Dog owners in Chicago are being warned to keep their pets away from the city’s dog-friendly parks and beaches to help control the spread of the dog flu, which has killed five dogs in the area and sickened more than 1,000 more.

On Friday, the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control urged pet owners to avoid not just dog parks, but group training activities, doggy day care, groomers, boarding facilities and other environments where dogs congregate or socialize until the outbreak — or epidemic, as some are calling it — subsides.

Signs posted at dog-friendly parks and beaches read:

“The Canine Influenza Virus (the Dog Flu) is causing illness throughout the Chicago area. All unvaccinated dogs may be at risk. Even dogs showing no sign of illness may carry this virus.


“The virus is extremely contagious. Unvaccinated dogs exposed to the Dog Flu are more likely to contract the disease.”

The signs go on to list the symptoms of the dog flu: coughing, lethargy, difficulty breathing, nasal discharge and lack of appetite.

While people can’t catch it from dogs, the dog flu is is extremely contagious between dogs that come into close contact with each other.

Forty states have experienced outbreaks of the dog flu since the virus was discovered in 2004.

Experts say nearly every dog exposed to it will get the virus. About 25 percent of those don’t show signs of the sickness, but can still pass it on to other dogs.

Limiting socialization with other dogs is the best way to fight the illness, said Dr. Cynda Crawford, who helped discover the virus in 2005.

Crawford, with the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, told Steve Dale’s Pet World, a blog on ChicagoNow.com, that owners often aren’t aware their dogs are ill.

She advises limiting all socialization, including letting your dog be walked by a dog walker who takes dogs out in groups.

While there is a vaccine for dog flu, it is new, expensive, requires multiple shots and, as with the human vaccine, fails to guarantee a dog won’t catch the virus.

Chicago animal control officials said the outbreak could last several more weeks.

(Photo: from ChicagoNow.com)

Infection prompts PSPCA to empty shelter

The Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals plan to remove all the animals from a city shelter and disinfect the building after a dog died of a rare illness last month.

The PSPCA will place the dogs and cats with animal rescue agencies around the region.

PSPCA officials say the death of a 3-year-old chocolate Lab last week from a viral infection prompted the decision to empty and clean the building.

Officials quarantined the PSPCA shelter on West Hunting Park Avenue last year after an outbreak of the same illness that killed at least six dogs. The infection was identified as Streptococcus zooepidemicus, or “strep zoo”

While the PSPCA disinfected the shelter after last year’s outbreak, PSPCA chief executive officer Sue Cosby said it’s possible the strain may have remained.

“It could be we never completely eliminated it from the building,” she said.

Cosby said all the dogs from the shelter will be placed with animal-rescue agencies across the region, and only new dogs will be admitted after the cleaning.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, health issues have plagued the shelter for years.

Bill Smith, founder of Main Line Animal Rescue, said the of the 300 dogs and cats he had taken from the PSPCA in the last year, virtually every one had some form of illness, ranging from mild upper-respiratory infection to strep zoo.

The building itself, a former warehouse, is apparently at the root of the problem, the Inquirer reported. It lacks adequate air circulation and  a quarantine area where staff can isolate incoming dogs.

“It was not built to house animals,”  said Melissa Levy of the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, which rescued 2,200 animals from the shelter last year. “When the city established it as an animal-control shelter, they paid no attention to how the building needed to be outfitted.

“It’s a hotbed for disease,” she added. “The problems are not going to go away. The PSPCA is doing what they can do, but they’re working with a sick building.”

Canine flu closes kennels at Virginia shelter

The dog kennels at the animal shelter in Fairfax County, Va., will be closed for at least two weeks due to an outbreak of canine flu.

Only two cases at the shelter have been confirmed through testing, but more than two dozen dogs at the shelter are showing symptoms of the highly contagious virus, according to the Fairfax Times. There are about 60 dogs at the shelter.

“We do feel we have it contained and we’ve taken all of the steps we can to prevent it from spreading,” said Karen Diviney, animal shelter director.

A smaller kennel area is set up to house uninfected dogs, including those just coming in to the shelter. While they can’t legally refuse to accept new animals, Diviney said shelter officials are urging people not to bring dogs to the shelter if they have any other options.

At least six cases of canine influenza have been confirmed in the county, the Washington Post reported.

Three dogs have been treated at Deepwood Veterinary Clinic in Centreville, one of whom died, said Dr. Wanda Pool, chief veterinarian. “We’re very, very worried about this in the community,” Pool said. She said dog owners should be careful about taking their dog to a dog park, doggie day care or boarding facility.

Canine influenza was first identified in 2004 and has been confirmed in 30 states now. Pool said this is the first time, to her knowledge, that the virus has been confirmed in Northern Virginia. A vet clinic in Sterling has also reported one confirmed case, she said.

Like the flu virus in humans, dogs can have a range of symptoms from the virus and most do not get seriously ill. Older dogs or dogs with other health problems are more susceptible to develop pneumonia or secondary infections that can cause more serious illness or death, Pool said. Humans and other animals cannot get sick from the virus, but can help spread it if they have been in contact with a dog that is sneezing or coughing. The virus can live on surfaces or clothing for up to 48 hours, Pool said.

Pennsylvania SPCA resumes adoptions

Dog adoptions have resumed at the Pennsylvania SPCA (PSPCA), located at 350 E. Erie Avenue in Philadelphia.

The Erie Avenue operation and the Rutherford Memorial Animal Hospital were temporarily closed due to a outbreak of Streptococcus zooepidemicus, commonly referred to as “strep zoo” that led to six deaths. The cat adoption program has remained open.

All facilities have reopened except for the organization’s Animal Care and Control Team (ACCT) facility located at 111 W. Hunting Park Avenue, where most of the illnesses were reported. It remains under isolation.

“After consulting with our own internal medical team and experts at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, we have instituted protocol in order to isolate the illness, closely monitor and treat all of the dogs in our care, and prevent against future occurrences,” said Susan Cosby, CEO of the PSPCA.

At PSCPA, a new director and a quarantine

A hectic week is underway at the The Pennsylvania SPCA, which handles animal control for Philadelphia and is the state’s largest operator of animal shelters.

In addition to seeing a new executive director named, the organization is dealing with an outbreak of an undetermined canine disease that has led to six deaths and a quarantine at its two Philadelphia facilities.

The shelters will continue to take in stray dogs and place them in isolation, but has shut down adoptions for two weeks.

The Philadelphia Daily News reports that canine flu has yet to be confirmed as the cause of the deaths, but quotes Rachel Lee, the medical director of PSPCA, as saying the afflicted dogs exhibited symptoms characteristic of the respiratory infection. Results of diagnostic tests are expected to be ready by Thursday.

“We cannot confirm that it is canine influenza yet,” said Lee. “But we are treating it as if it is, at this point.”

Read more »

Parvo outbreak leads to BARCS quarantine

An outbreak of Parvovirus, a serious and highly contagious dog disease, has forced Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter to temporarily close all dog housing.

Because of the illness, the city shelter ceased adopting out dogs about a week ago. The housing areas at BARCS will be closed to both the public and volunteers until at least Feb. 14, after which adoptions will continue. The shelter remains opens to those wishing to adopt cats, which are not affected by the disease.

Jennifer Mead-Brause, executive director of BARCS, said the outbreak was traced to two dogs that owners brought in to surrender about 10 days ago. In one case, the owner was aware the dog had the disease and told shelter staff, allowing them to take proper precautions.

In the second case, it was not known that the dog had the virus.

In all, eight dogs caught the disease, which Mead-Brause says appears to have been contained.

Dogs are remaining in quarantine for another week to make sure the virus, which has a two-week incubation period, doesn’t show up again.

“We’re waiting for that and just holding our breath,” she said.

Read more »

Outbreaks close shelter, kennels

Several dogs have died from a rare illness that forced a Brooklyn animal shelter to close for nearly a week, the Associated Press reports.

Animal Care & Control of New York City says the dogs at the Brooklyn shelter are no longer in any danger from contracting the disease known as Strep Zoo. The shelter, closed last week, reopened Monday.

Meanwhile, in Colorado Springs, an outbreak of dog flu citywide has left two dog day care centers temporarily closed. Lucky Dog Resort and Training and Camp Bow Wow both closed their doors to ensure a string of the dog flue was completely cleaned out, according to KRDO-TV.

“If they’re (dogs) around a dog who’s in the contagious period, which is usually the first two to five days of the infection, they can definitely contract it,” said Dr. Susan Bloss of Cheyenne Mountain Animal Hospital.  The dog flu is a respiratory virus with no vaccine. Although it’s rarely fatal, Bloss said, your dog can still get very sick. All it takes is a sneeze from one dog, and a sniff from another to contract it.