Officials are warning about the dog flu after five confirmed cases in Georgia.
The new strain was apparently spread by out-of-state dogs at a dog show in Houston County last month.
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Veterinarians said the dog flu is so contagious that a dog can sneeze 20 feet away from another dog and pass it or people can spread it by petting another dog.
“It can easily be transferred from one city to another, simply because of a plane flight or a car ride,” Dr. Cary Mackey said.
Mackey’s clinic is stocking up on vials of the dog flu vaccine, which may soon be administered all around the metro.
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“It may not offer full protection, but if the dog gets infected, it should help prevent severe symptoms of the flu in your pets,” she said.
A growing number of pet owners are getting their dogs vaccinated and state officials are spreading the word that the flu is out there.
“(It can spread in) shelters, kennels, things like that where you have a lot of dogs collected in one place,” Assistant State Veterinarian Dr. Janemarie Hennebelle said.
Officials advise dog owners to be on the lookout for dogs that are sneezing or coughing. They said the flu can make dogs sick, but it is not usually fatal.
“Very rarely is this fatal, but unfortunately there have been a few patients that have passed away due to the flu and side effects of being infected,” Mackey said.