Kansas veterinarians begin treating fast-spreading canine flu

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A canine flu is sweeping the country. Ten states have reported cases of the canine flu in just a few weeks.

Kansas isn't on the list yet, but at least one Wichita veterinarian isn't waiting for that confirmation in his state. He's already begun vaccinating his patients for the canine flu, titled H3N2.

"Our policy in our practice is to vaccinate, recommend vaccinating dogs that go to dog shows," said Dr. Gary Stamps, veterinarian at Animal Hospital at Auburn Hills. 

Why dog shows? Because that's where this flu strain originated two years ago.

It was discovered at a Chicago dog show in 2015 and led to the shut down of various rescue organizations because the flu was spreading so rapidly, officials tried various means to contain it. There weren't many more reported cases, until last month.

H3N2 re-emerged, with cases reported in Georgia and Florida late last month. Veterinary Practice News reports that cases have also been confirmed in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

"A cough, just not feeling good, could see a fever," said Stamps.

He has the vaccination, which is readily available and in large supply, at his Wichita office. He treats show dogs, including two dachshunds he vaccinated Tuesday afternoon.

"Every weekend they can go to a show. That's why there's lots of exposure, because they're traveling," said Don Ristow, owner of the dogs treated.  "For competition, they both qualified for championships and grand championships."

80 percent of dogs infected usually display symptoms, in 3 to 5 percent of cases the illness proves fatal. Stamps is hoping spreading the warnings about the illness now, will prevent the virus from becoming deadly in Kansas.

"We're gonna hit that point when we see diagnoses in Kansas, we're gonna have to re-visit our protocol," he said.

H3N2 is not transmittable by humans, only canines. You're urged to contact your veterinarian if you have more questions and concerns.

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