Dog Flu-rries Take Chicago by Storm
By Abe Lerner
Chicago Dog Flu Outbreak in the Spotlight
Growing up in Chicago, there were two things that I took for granted: the Cubs losing and snow. As a member of Cubs Nation, I suffer from BaLoNeY Syndrome (Better Luck Next Year), the ailment afflicting all of us dedicated Cubs fans for the past 107 years. Our annual “throwing in of the towel”, conceding of yet another losing campaign, generally transpires approximately 15 games into the young season, when traditionally the Cubs are already 10 games out of 1st place! Despite the fact that this year looks promising, we always expect “the other shoe to drop.” Remember Steve Bartman?
Snow too, was part and parcel of my youth. Snow flurries accompanied by blustery winds and frigid temperatures linger vividly in my memory. Flurries were typically a harbinger of an impending onslaught of the white stuff. Chicagoans though are a resilient bunch. Ingrained in our DNA is not only the wherewithal to withstand Mother Nature’s wrath (and more than a century without a Cubs World Series title), but also the capability to persevere when facing adversity, “weathering the storms” of life’s challenges. Although personally I relocated to New Jersey some 24 years ago, I continue to implement lessons learned from my tenacious Chicago upbringing.
That same Chicago grit will be necessary to combat the dog flu epidemic currently sweeping through the city. According to Mary Wisniewski in an April 14, 2015, Reuters report, more than 1100 dogs have become sickened with canine influenza. Symptoms include a running fever, a weak appetite, lethargic conduct, and a nagging cough. The virus, which has claimed the lives of six dogs as well, is an extremely contagious strain that closely resembles the H3N2 flu virus strain, which has been prevalent in Eastern Asian dogs since 2006.
Chicago area health officials are most troubled by the longevity of the outbreak, and the inability to contain it. Reports of Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD) cases began trickling in to authorities from local veterinarians back in January. Experts speculate however, that many additional flu diagnoses may have gone unreported, as vets overwhelmed by the rash of cases brought to their clinics, simply didn’t have the time to alert health officials.
What steps should be taken? If your dog is exhibiting symptoms of the flu, it is recommended that when bringing him to the clinic for observation, that he remains outside the facility until directed otherwise. This particular strain of the flu is so infectious, that even being in close proximity to other pets in a waiting room increases their exposure, further spreading the disease. Veterinarians may choose to see patients outdoors or in an isolation area. Although humans can’t contract the illness, they are capable of spreading it. Any human contact with a dog should be followed by a rigorous hand washing.
Additionally, dog owners should avoid taking them to pet-friendly venues. Areas such as kennels, pet daycare centers, and dog parks are breeding grounds for transmission of the illness. These locations, where many pets congregate together, should not be frequented during these turbulent times. A number of local pet boarding facilities have actually shut down temporarily, in response to the crisis. Although this can incur hardship, as work schedules and even daily walks can be affected, the necessary precautions should be taken to limit the spread of the virus. Stopping an epidemic dead in its tracks, requires emergency measures to be taken. Despite the inconvenience, people would need to rise to the occasion. I have a feeling though, that if anybody can do it, Chicagoans are the ones who can “ride out the storm.”
Abe Lerner is a member of the pack at NutralifePet, a division of Nutralife Health Products, Inc., which has been selling high quality dietary supplements since 1996. NutralifePet, the manufacturer of Ultra Joint & Liver Support with SAM-e for dogs and cats, caters to the individual needs of each pet. NutralifePet…caring about animals, one pet at a time…