Santa Barbara County veterinarians concerned with canine influenza outbreak

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SANTA BARBARA, California – It’s flu season, but not just for the people.

As the warm weather subsides, the largest recorded canine flu outbreak sweeps across Los Angeles County.

The Santa Barbara Humane Society staff recently decided to vaccinate all dogs at the Santa Barbara and Santa Maria locations.

“Due to a minor closure of one of the LA animal shelters, we decided on Saturday to vaccinate all of our animals,” said Katie Marrie, Santa Barbara Humane’s chief veterinary officer.

There are currently 320 confirmed cases in LA County.

There are currently no confirmed cases in Santa Barbara County.

However, five dogs are sick in San Luis Obispo County and four in Ventura County.

The virus is similar to the common flu; Cause coughing, sneezing and loss of appetite.

Ginger White, director of animal shelter for Santa Barbara County Animal Services, has been keeping a close eye on the rapid transmission of this virus.

“The main symptoms are coughing, not feeling well, not so energetic, not so active, and maybe not wanting to eat very much,” she said.

In the canine community, this flu often spreads to places like boarding houses, dog day care centers, or even parks.

“It’s a contagious disease that dogs mostly get from being around other dogs,” White said.

“This is how this virus goes from dog to dog,” Marrie said. “Share bowls of water, sniff and interact with each other.”

Both vets advise all pet owners to keep an eye out for this highly contagious virus.

“The only way to get a diagnosis is to see the vet and get some pretty specific swab tests,” White said. “The test has to be sent to a laboratory, which can take a few days to get results.”

To slow down transmission, Marrie recommends that sick dogs spend a month in quarantine.

“If your dog is not doing well, keep him at home for a few weeks,” she said. “It’s the best way to stop the spread.”

There is also a widely used two-dose vaccine that must be given at least two weeks apart between each vaccination.

“It’s really a good idea to get vaccinated, especially given how close it is to this outbreak,” concluded White.

To make an appointment for a canine influenza vaccination, click here.