(KMSP) - According to one report, Minnesota currently has the second largest number of cases of dog flu in the country.
There are two strains of canine influenza experts are watching. One has been around for more than a decade and another strain spiked in Chicago in 2015. Vaccines became available for dogs last summer and now veterinarians are urging owners to get their pets the flu shot.
Dr. Teresa Hershey at Westgate Pet Clinic in south Minneapolis is warning pet owners about canine influenza. Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine tracks dog flu cases. Their most recent map shows 23 cases in Minnesota in the past month and half. The only state with more cases is Florida. Dr. Hershey has spoken to the lab she works with closely and a vaccine company, which tell her the number of Minnesota cases are even higher and primarily in Wright County.
“What I'm worried about is last week the initial report was three cases and now it's gone up to 32 in a really short amount of time, in a week or two,” said Dr. Hershey. “It's a really contagious virus and so I am worried it's going to start spreading into other parts of Minnesota."
Dr. Hershey says the virus spreads quick and easily because it's airborne and the first signs to look for are a coughs and sneezing.
"Just like with people, it is the young and old and immune-compromised patients that have the most trouble with it,” said Dr. Hershey.
In extreme cases dogs have died. Cats can contract this type of influenza as well, however, at this point a vaccine is not available.