June 28, 2017
ITHACA N.Y. (WENY) -- Experts at Cornell University say the recent outbreak of dog influenza in Chemung County was actually traced back to an outbreak nearly a thousand miles away.
Researchers at the Baker Institute say this strain started in Georgia then spread to Florida, and up the eastern seaboard. It even made it's way to Texas.
"A dog was supposedly at a show somewhere in the Midwest, came back into the Southern Tier and that's how we suspect it came here," says Edward Dubovi, professor of virology at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine’s New York State Animal Health Diagnostic Center (AHDC).
Research shows this particular strain can even be traced all the way back to an outbreak in Chicago in March of 2015.
The AHDC is working with nearly a dozen other laboratories across the country to continue to research and further investigate the virus.
"Turns out this particular strain came out of Korea with some dogs that were rescued there from the meat markets. The genetics link the virus directly back to Korea," Dubovi explains.
While two cases have been confirmed so far in Chemung County, one kennel (unable to be identified) has had some fatalities, possibly linked to this illness.
"There were a number of dogs that died in that facility, but again we don't know how many of those were directly linked to flu. We know that one of the dogs that died had influenza, but there may be other factors associated with it also," says Dubovi.
While many dogs don't show significant signs of being sick, owners can be on the lookout for symptoms similar to those found when dealing with the human flu, such as runny nose, loss of appetite, and lack of energy.
Dubovi says it can get worse from there.
"The danger involved in this is what we consider the secondary infection. There are a number of bacteria that the dogs carry, also, that once the lung defenses are compromised, these agents then enter and can cause major problems: so the secondary bacterial pneumonia," Dubovi says.
Dogs are at the highest risk of contracting the virus at animal shelters, boarding kennels, grooming salons, canine daycare, dog parks and other locations where the animals are in close quarters.
There are preventative measures owners can take to protect their pups.
"One of their options is to actually vaccinate them for this strain of virus that's circulating out there. So there's vaccines which are available for this. The other option that you could do is just totally isolate your dog," Dubovi explains.
Cornell University developed an interactive map where you can view cases being reported across the U.S. That webpage can be found here: