News 4's Jackie Bensen reports on a new and potentially deadly strain of canine influenza and what people can do to protect their pets. At least two dogs died in Montgomery County, Md.
Montgomery Parks is urging dog owners to take precautions and protect their pets following an increase of canine influenza at area dog parks.
Two dogs died of the illness and at least seven others contracted it in Montgomery County, according to the Department of Agriculture.
The flu strain causing so much trouble for dogs was first identified in 2009. Since then, cases have been documented in 30 states, including D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
It's believed to have mutated from a horse virus.
The big concern is that most dogs are not immune to it, and older and younger dogs are the most susceptible.
Montgomery Parks says dog owners should contact their veterinarians if they notice any symptoms of the highly contagious illness.
Symptoms of canine flu include a runny nose, coughing, sneezing and fever. In rare and severe cases, dogs may develop pneumonia, which could be fatal.
But some infected dogs will show no symptoms, according to Dr. Marcie Engel of Brookeville Animal Hospital.
Local vets have the vaccine, which costs about $35 and is administered in two shots given over two weeks. The vaccine is vitally important for dogs that spend time in a dog park, boarding kennels or daycare.
The disease cannot be transmitted to humans, but man's best friend can contract canine influenza from contaminated objects, including people's hands and clothes.