COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Pet boarders and doggie daycares in the Midlands are warning clients that dog flu has arrived in South Carolina and vaccines are recommended for those in community settings.
Canine influenza has struck several states according to the University of Florida, and South Carolina is believed to have dogs infected with both strains, CIV H3N2 and CIV H3N8.
Neighboring states North Carolina and Georgia are in the same boat, along with several others in the southeast.
At Columbia's Camp Bow Wow, clients got an email alerting them to the issue and suggesting they talk to their vet about vaccines.
"We always talk to our clients. We always inform them of things going around. We do defer to vets with vaccinations just to make sure. We're not the expert as far as that's concerned. We do follow their advice though," said owner Frank Ellington.
Ellington says some they've conferred with are vaccinating, while others are still researching to learn more about it. At the Midlands Vet Clinic, not only do they vaccinate, they've been doing it for nearly five years.
Veterinarian Dr. Robert Cabe says they've recommended patients get the flu vaccine for both strains of canine influenza since it first showed up in the United States.
"It's something you have to take seriously," said Dr. Cabe.
While his office hasn't confirmed any cases, there have been some confirmed in nearby Charleston and in North Carolina. Dr. Cabe said he's received a huge number of calls from concerned pet parents.
The vaccine is recommended for high-risk dogs, which include those that regularly visit dog parks, kennels, pet shows, boarders, doggie day care and groomers.
The initial vaccine is followed by a booster after about two weeks. It's not effective until both are received. According to American Veterinary Medical Foundation, the virus is spread from respiratory secretions, meaning when a dog coughs, barks or sneezes.
While Camp Bow Wow hasn't seen any cases, it's making an extra effort to a rigorous cleaning routine each day to prevent the spread of the disease.
That's because the germs can live on surfaces up to 48 hours, clothing for 24 hours and hands for 12 hours. It's often transmitted from things like dog bowls, toys or their human's clothes or hands. Cats can catch it, too.
In addition to cleaning, Dr. Cabe warns people to watch for symptoms. Those include fever, cough, rapid breathing, lack of appetite and lethargy.
Most dogs exhibit the virus through a wet cough that may remind you of a kennel cough. That can persist for ten to 21 days. AVMF reports most dogs have recovered fully in two to three weeks.
While there have been reported deaths, including two recently in nearby North Carolina, the mortality rate is low. Less than ten percent of dogs die from the flu.