Canine Flu Hits Florida

A serious disease is plaguing the state of Florida. A warning to all dog owners: a highly contagious virus known as "canine influenza" is becoming more widespread in Florida.

Terence McElroy, spokesman for the Florida Department of Agriculture, says, "This is a disease that apparently first showed up in the past year among racing dogs in Florida."

Pet owners in our area are concerned with their dog's safety.

Carli Slinkard, a dog owner, says, "I'd be real interested in knowing where it's coming from and if we're getting it from all the rescue animals from New Orleans."

Because research shows the disease originating in Florida, veterinarians say it's not likely evacuated pets brought the disease into the Sunshine State.

Alicia Smith, a veterinarian, says, "For dogs who are stressed, who are out of their natural environment and who may have suffered just the way evacuees have suffered, they might be at a higher risk because they are already stressed and under the weather."

While canine flu has similar symptoms to kennel cough, veterinarians warn that it can lead to more serious diseases. Veterinarians say some symptoms to watch for include cough, nasal discharge and fever.

McElroy adds, "Bring the animal to the vet and get them checked out, because in acute cases it could be life threatening."

Officials say there is a low mortality rate and the best thing pet owners can do is to be aware of the symptoms. Veterinarians believe the disease is only passed from one dog to another and causes no threat to humans.