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Frankfort area has an outbreak of a new, stronger strain of dog flu; cats could also be affected; vets say pets shouldn't socialize

Hattie relaxes at East Frankfort Park Wednesday afternoon.
Her owner said she will get her canine flu vaccination soon.
(State Journal photo by Austin Horn)
Dog owners in Franklin County are being warned to keep their pets away from others' pets because a strain of canine flu has become widespread in and around Frankfort.

Dr. Denis King of the Frankfort Animal Clinic told Austin Horn of The State Journal he found the H3N2 virus capital among “some dogs that had been boarding here [that] started coughing and were running fevers.”

"With 20 to 30 other dogs boarding at the clinic exhibiting similar symptoms — which include reduced appetite, high fever, cough, runny nose and lethargy — King said that it was safe to assume that they also contracted the disease," Horn reports.

"H3N2 is relatively new in the United States, having originated in South Korea in 2006 but only finding its way to the US in 2015," Horn writes. "It is most often spread through dog shows or other events and places where dogs congregate en masse according to Dr. Cynda Crawford, a professor and leading infectious-disease researcher at the University of Florida."

Dogs with the virus "can be contagious for up to four weeks even if they are no longer showing symptoms," Horn reports. "Crawford noted that dog owners should be aware of crucial differences between H3N2 and the other strand of dog flu, H3N8, with which Americans are more familiar. The most pertinent, she noted, is that H3N2 puts dogs at a much higher risk for pneumonia, which could prove fatal. And she added that the virus has been known to affect cats as well as dogs. While Crawford advocated for a temporary pause in dog exposure to boarding areas to stem the virus’ advance, she emphasized that vaccination was the most important step a dog owner can take."

The outbreak has prompted King's clinic and other pet-care facilities in Franklin County "that deal with large numbers of dogs to make their operations more conservative," Horn reports. "Jeff Poe, co-owner of Pet Domain and Suites, said he required all animals staying at the pet hotel to be vaccinated against the new flu. At the Franklin County Humane Society, a similar approach was taken according to technician Kerry Lowary. The humane society provided all its dogs with the new vaccine."

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