U.S. Dog flu outbreak gained foothold at urban doggie day cares

While usually a healthy experience for the dogs, the day care environment, with dozens of pets mingling, contributed to an epidemic of dog flu in Chicago that is spreading in the Midwest, experts say.The illness could arise in other urban areas after sweeping through the city where it took advantage of spring break boarding and sickened more than 1,100 dogs.

Dogs that seemed healthy would come in with the virus and contaminate other dogs. We decided, the only way we can stop this is to stop having the dogs interact with each other and the only way we can do that is to close.

Beverley Petrunich, co-owner of DoGone Fun, a day care

Experts at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine say the H3N2 dog flu virus likely arose from viruses circulating in live bird markets in Asia. It spread among dogs in South Korea and parts of China. An outbreak hit Thailand in 2012. Before now, the strain hadn’t been seen in North America. That suggests a recent introduction from Asia. Not all infected dogs show symptoms. Some get a cough, runny nose and fever. Severe cases can lead to pneumonia. Six dogs have died in the Chicago-area outbreak. Cases have also been reported in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana.

The world is a very small place, and viruses easily travel from one part of the world to another.

Dr. Amy Glaser of Cornell Univerisity