On Friday, the Center for Disease Control will release the latest activity data for the 2018 deadly flu season.
Several groups are frantically working on a universal flu vaccine to give long-lasting protection against all strains of the virus.
Their work comes amid information released by the CDC on Thursday that says the 2018 vaccine is only 36-percent effective.
As experts track the virus, they are also warning pet owners that it's not just the people in a family that need to be taken care of.
Experts advise pet owners to pay close attention to any flu-like symptoms.
Dr. Brad Twigg at the Plaza Animal Clinic says if dog owners notice their pup acting strange they should take their pet’s temperature.
“Their temperatures roughly range from 101 to 102.5 degrees versus us at the 98.6 with the normal temperature so a high fever for them is going to be around 104-106-degree temperature,” Twigg said.
Symptoms of the dog flu include coughing, fever, loss of appetite, clear nasal discharge, yellow or green eye mucus and acting lethargic.
For dog owners whose pets do catch the dog flu, experts say the animal should be hospitalized where so they can receive antibiotics and, in some cases, oxygen therapy.
Veterinarians say the dog flu is highly contagious and that humans can carry the virus on their clothes and give it to dogs.
“It’s an influenza strain that dogs can transmit to each other and we can sometimes carry it ourselves and transmit it to them,” Twigg said.
There are currently two strains that can affect dogs and veterinarians say one is causing a majority of the problems in 2018.
The strain is called H3NS. It was discovered in 2015 and experts say it is highly contagious.
“Now is the time where, if your pet or dog is going to be at risk for it, that’s when you want to get them vaccinated so they can be protected,” Twigg said.
Twigg says people planning to leave dogs at a kennel should keep in mind that the vaccine takes multiple days before being effective.
“You initially give them one vaccine and two to three weeks later you booster it to get them fully protected,” Twigg said. “So, it takes the immune system a couple of weeks to build immunity to them.”
Experts say to avoid the dog flu, animals should be vaccinated, fed a healthy diet and should avoid social venues like dog parks. They say the dog flu can survive on hard surfaces for up to 24 hours and tells pet owners to keep any animal toys clean.
Twigg says cat owners should also be careful as some felines can contract the dog flu.
In the United States, 46 states, including Kansas and Missouri, have reported cases of canine influenza.
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