A dog in metro Atlanta has been diagnosed with a new strain of the canine influenza virus and may have exposed other animals to the illness.
The new dog flu has been spreading through dog populations in the Midwest and has already affected thousands of dogs in Chicago since March.
Scientists at the University of Georgia confirmed Wednesday that an illness diagnosed in a dog in Athens late last week is the new strain of canine flu, identified as H3N2.
“On Tuesday, May 19, 2015, it was determined that the strain of Canine Influenza virus that was detected last week in a patient from the metropolitan Atlanta area is the new strain (H3N2), which is the same strain responsible for the recent cases of canine influenza in the Midwest,” a statement from the University of Georgia Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories reported.
The symptoms of the bug include coughing, fever and lethargy.
UGA also confirmed the sick dog had been in contact with other dogs at a metro Atlanta boarding facility.
Tara Rittle is a vet with Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital and says scientists have been closely monitoring the outbreak in Chicago.
Rittle said during an interview on “A Closer Look” that researchers developed a vaccine for a canine flu outbreak in Florida in 2004.
But “this outbreak looked different,” she said. “They do not have a vaccine for this virus in Chicago.”
Rittle says vets are concerned that the vaccine for the 2004 canine flu virus won’t work against this new threat.
“We’re worried that the antibodies the vaccine makes may not be protective, as well.”
The new virus is very contagious, but Rittle said most dogs survive it.
Rittle discussed the virus, what to look for and the symptoms on “A Closer Look.”
WABE's Rose Scott, Jim Burress, and Lauren Waits contributed to this story.