In Philadelphia, PA. a few shelters have been shutdown after six dogs died.
The shelter, on Erie Avenue near B Street, was preparing to enter into a quarantine, which went into effect at noon, after the death of six dogs this week from what is believed to potentially be canine influenza, said Kim Wolf, a spokeswoman for the PSPCA.
Another shelter run by the Animal Care & Control Team (ACCT) was quarantined yesterday, she said.
Canine flu has yet to be confirmed as the cause of these deaths, but Rachel Lee, the medical director of PSPCA, said that the dogs had exhibited severe symptoms characteristic of the respiratory infection. Results of diagnostic tests are expected to be ready by Thursday.
“We cannot confirm that it is canine influenza yet,” said Lee. “But we are treating it as if it is, at this point.”
This includes following the “extreme quarantine protocol,” as Lee called it, with the shutting of the PSPCA facility on Erie Avenue and the ACCT facility on Hunting Park Avenue near Front Street, where one dog showed symptoms before dying Wednesday.
At the time, the death was deemed an isolated incident, but officials decided to quarantine the facilities after five more dogs exhibited the same symptoms before dying, Lee said.
It’s not clear whether other dogs have become ill. Efforts to prevent the infection, which displays symptoms much like those of influenza affecting humans, include ensuring proper diet and hydration, Lee said.
While this disease is rare, animal shelter workers need to be aware of the symptoms. It’s highly contagious and very dangerous when you have dogs packed in such close quarters. Although it usually isn’t deadly this new outbreak is very severe, and has a rapid onset.
Dog owners also need to be aware of the symptoms which include a hacking cough, nasal discharge, runny nose, and really runny eyes. If your dog has any of the above symptoms get them to the vet immediately, it can be treated if caught in time.
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