Vets predict canine influenza outbreak will spread to SC - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Vets predict canine influenza outbreak will spread to SC

Pets are a member of the family and some South Carolina residents have expressed concern recently over the life-threatening new strain of canine influenza. (Source: Mandy Noell) Pets are a member of the family and some South Carolina residents have expressed concern recently over the life-threatening new strain of canine influenza. (Source: Mandy Noell)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Pets are a member of the family and some South Carolina residents have expressed concern recently over the life-threatening new strain of canine influenza.

While there aren't any reported cases in South Carolina, that may not last forever. In fact, veterinarians said they do expect it to spread to our state.

"Eventually it will be in South Carolina," said Dr. Matt Stone with the Myrtle Animal Hospital. "The hardest part about any flu, or flu vaccine is it can mutate so quickly and sometimes it's hard to keep up with the vaccines," Dr. Stone said.

Until now, there has only been one strand of canine influenza, which started around 2005. The brand new strain, Dr. Stone said, is believed to have come from Asia, and even dogs who are vaccinated are at risk.

"We do not have a vaccine that currently protects against the new strain," Dr. Stone continued. "They tried using the vaccine with the new strain. It's sort of up in the air whether it's going to work or not, but most likely it will not be effective," Dr. Stone said.

Researchers are working on a new vaccine for man's best friend. In the meantime, 1,300 dogs have gotten sick across Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Dr. Stone said most are mild cases. "Runny nose, fever, supportive care, sometimes fluids, antibiotics, but there are cases that can get more severe, especially for immune-compromised patients- young and old. They can potentially get a very severe illness," Dr. Stone added.

Six dogs have died. The illness transfers from dog to dog just like the human flu. Dr. Stone warned that the Grand Strand is at risk as the outbreaks continue. "The biggest concern down here in Myrtle Beach, cause we're not really an isolated area. We have people traveling down here all the time, often with their dogs, so it is something we have to be concerned with. "

Dr Stone says about 80 percent of the reported cases are mild, and if the canine flu does break out in South Carolina, it may be a good idea to stay out of dog parks, and places a lot of dogs will be, and could spread germs easily.

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