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Web page provides pet owners with information on dog flu

Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine has established a Web page with information about canine influenza, which has spread to pet dogs in 10 states after first being diagnosed in January 2004 at a Florida greyhound track. No cases have been reported in Illinois.

The flu strain involved is a mutation of an equine influenza virus and is not known to infect humans or poultry. The dog version of the virus, however, is highly contagious, can last for several weeks and potentially be fatal without treatment. Symptoms are similar to kennel cough, including sneezing, coughing and fever.

The Illinois Web site was created to provide dog owners with accurate information about the virus, said Tom Graves, chief of the college’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital and professor of veterinary clinical medicine.

“The important thing is that people not panic over this,” he said. “Canine flu is a new disease, so there is a lot we don’t know about it, but the mortality rate is very low, and many dogs don’t even get sick from it.”

Anyone who suspects a pet dog may have contracted the canine flu should consult a veterinarian. The college’s Web site notes that treatment has been successful in about 95 percent of known cases.