Confirmed cases of highly contagious dog flu in the Bay Area

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A warning for Bay Area dog owners: Animal care officials say there are now confirmed cases of the flu among dogs in this region.

Cases have been reported in San Francisco and the South Bay.

Animal care experts say the Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) is extremely contagious. It is treatable but can pose a serious health risk to your pet. 

Symptoms include coughing, nasal and eye discharge, lethargy, loss of appetite, and fever.

In severe cases, the virus may progress to pneumonia and require hospitalization, according to the Humane Society Silicon Valley. 

Animal care officials advise pet owners to contact your veterinarian if your dog shows these symptoms. 

The SPCA is urging owners to get their dogs vaccinated, especially if their pets are regularly around large groups of other dogs, like at doggie daycare or dog parks.

One expert tells KTVU, it is extremely rare to see the spread of CIV. Dr. Dani Rabwin of Broadway Pet Hospital in Oakland says there were cases in the Midwest a few years ago and veterinarians have been keeping their eyes open to see if the virus would show up in other parts of the country.

"It was first reported and really talked about in the news in Chicago a couple of years ago and we're now hearing confirmed cases of it in the South Bay and San Francisco," Dr. Rabwin said. 

San Francisco SPCA confirms one case of dog influenza. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the virus originated in horses, which spread to dogs. 

"Typical symptoms look like what people think of as kennel cough, so coughing and sneezing. So it will start with that, but can develop into a much more serious respiratory condition," Dr. Rabwin said. 

Humans cannot get the flu from dogs, but canine flu can be passed onto other dogs through your pet's leash and clothing you're wearing.

So if you think you have been around a dog that might have the flu, experts advise you help prevent the spread of the virus and wash your hands, change your clothes, and clean off your shoes. 

If you think your dog has symptoms for the flu, you should take them to see an expert. Then they'll get the flu vaccination, which is two shots, three weeks apart. 

KTVU reporter Paul Chambers contributed to this report