Canine flu rising fast in Metro Atlanta

Sneezing, runny nose, high fever... It sounds like a trip to the doctor is in order. But the patient we're talking about has four legs and barks.

Recently the number of "dog flu" cases has risen dramatically shutting down at least one dog daycare in metro Atlanta. Up until a month ago a majority of the cases of dog flu had been limited to the Midwest, most specifically the Chicago area. But now the phrase dog flu is becoming a common one on message boards and social media.

One vet who spoke with FOX 5 Atlanta said he's now seeing one to two cases of canine influenza each day. It was last month when a vet in Sandy Springs confirmed three cases of dog flu here our area.

Just this week, a day care in downtown Atlanta shut down for decontamination after several of their pups turned up sick. And they're not the only one affected. Some people on social media message boards have named a dog sitter, and others report a boarding facility that is refusing dogs because of the outbreak.

Vets tell FOX 5 Atlanta common symptoms are coughing, sneezing, high fever and a runny nose. And that the easiest way for your pup to contract the flu is at places like a daycare, dog park, and other boarding facilities.

There is a canine flu vaccine available but it's not an exact match for the current strain which comes from Korea. However it can reduce the severity of the flu if your dog does become infected.

The good news, claim vets, very few canine influenza cases are fatal. Most can be treated with antibiotics. But it is highly contagious and the virus can live on clothes and surfaces for up to 24 hours. So just like with human illnesses, it is recommended using hand sanitizer and staying away from common contagion areas like parks and daycare's if you can.

As always we want to know what you think. Are you worried about the health of your dog? Is this current outbreak going to change the places you take your pup?

App users click here for more images and video