Surge in Canine Flu Cases Demands Extra Precautions by Pet Owners
Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control (CCDARC) is cautioning dog owners that a recent increase in reported cases of canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD) could last for several weeks before it subsides.
Dr. Donna Alexander, CCDARC administrator, said voluntary reporting to the Department of disease surveillance conducted by veterinarians has identified more than 1,000 cases of CIRD, or canine flu, unrelated to “kennel cough”, as well as five fatalities. CIRD is distinguished from kennel cough by its severity, possible consequences and diagnostic confirmation.
The age of the animals presenting with CIRD symptoms vary, but more severe forms are being seen in dogs under 1 year of age and greater than 7, she said.
Symptoms include persistent and lingering cough, lethargic behavior, a poor appetite and a fever. If you observe or suspect your dog may be suffering from any or all of these symptoms, the animal should be seen by a veterinarian, Dr. Alexander said.
Additionally, she recommended that until incidents of the disease diminish, dog owners should avoid pet friendly areas such as dog parks, not allow their dogs to play with other dogs, avoid group dog training activities, and, if possible, not board their pets. Dogs can be contagious even if they are not showing any of the CIRD symptoms, Dr. Alexander said.
While CIRD is highly contagious for dogs, it is not contagious for humans or other household pets such as cats. However, the virus that causes CIRD can live on fabrics and hard surfaces and can be transmitted from person to dog if the person has come into contact with a dog carrying the virus. To avoid such transmission, Dr. Alexander recommends thorough hand-washing after touching or petting a dog.
A vaccine that counters CIRD is available and can be administered by a veterinarian. This vaccine is separate from the kennel cough vaccine.
Cook County Funds Comprehensive Urban Coyote Research Project
Originally known as ghosts of the plains, coyotes have now become ghosts of the cities – occasionally heard but rarely seen. This species is now becoming one of the top carnivores in an increasing number of metropolitan areas across North America. However, we know very little about how coyotes are becoming successful in landscapes dominated by people.
The Cook County Coyote Project (www.urbancoyoteresearch.com), largely funded by the Cook County Animal and Rabies Control agency, is a comprehensive ecological study of coyotes in the Chicago metropolitan area, specifically Cook County, Illinois.
To learn more about this unique project on the project website at www.urbancoyoteresearch.com.