The Kentucky Humane Society says it has temporarily stopped accepting dogs at its intake center in south Louisville after discovering multiple cases of dog flu over the weekend.
Three dogs at the society’s intake facility at 241 Steedly Drive tested positive for canine influenza — a highly contagious respiratory infection — and have been put in quarantine while undergoing treatment, so no new dogs are being taken in, KHS said.
“It’s going to allow us to get a handle on this and make sure we can treat everybody in our care,” a Humane Society spokeswoman, Andrea Blair, said. “Basically, any dog that’s currently showing any kind of upper respiratory symptoms at (the shelter) right now, they’re all on antibiotics and we’re monitoring them.”
Most dogs get over canine influenza within two to three weeks, but severe cases can be deadly, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Fatal cases of pneumonia resulting from infection with canine influenza virus have been reported in dogs, but the fatality rate is low” — less than 10 percent — according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Signs of dog flu include cough, runny nose, fever, lethargy, eye discharge and reduced appetite, but not all dogs experience them, the CDC notes.
The illness is spread by coughing and sneezing from infected dogs, by uninfected dogs coming into contact with contaminated objects, and by moving contaminated objects or materials between infected and uninfected dogs, according to the CDC.
The Kentucky Humane Society began vaccinating shelter dogs for two strains of dog flu — H3N2 and H3N8 — last June after the illness turned up in Louisville.
“Dogs in the U.S. have no natural immunity to it, so if they’re exposed to it, there’s a very high likelihood they will get it,” Blair said. “It’s more active, typically, in the summer.”
So the society is encouraging dog owners to get their pets vaccinated.
“It’s not going to give 100 percent immunity, but it’s definitely the best way to protect your animals and other animals in the community,” Blair said.
It’s unclear how long the intake facility won’t be receiving dogs, but the stoppage doesn’t affect 10 off-site adoption centers, which are still open for adoptions.
Also, the society’s Healthy Pets Clinic, a low-cost veterinary clinic on Steedly Drive, remains open. That clinic, which offers dog flu vaccine for $25 per vaccine, has a separate entrance and separate air system from the shelter, according to a news release.