Thursday, August 20, 2009

Doggone Doggy Flu

With all the talk about the swine flu possible pandemic among humans these days, we’re all--unfortunately--primed to hear about communicable people diseases. This week, there’s also been a lot in the news about a strain of canine influenza that appears to be picking up speed and virulence. It’s the dog flu, also known as H3N8.

Different kinds of dog flu seem to have been around for a long time, maybe as long as people flu. This one has been spreading, and is starting to kill some of the dogs who catch it.

Obvious places where the dog flu can be spread include shelters and kennels, dog parks and obedience classes. Apparently, people can’t catch it, but they can be carriers. If someone hugs a dog who has flu, then hugs one who doesn’t, the well one can become sick.

One positive thing is that a vaccine exists. That doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone should take their dogs to their vets and get an immediate shot, but it wouldn’t hurt to check with your vet to determine whether the area where you live has seen any infection. An article I read said that a dog has died in Fairfax, Virginia, and cases have been reported in Colorado, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Okay, have I worried you? I’m worried--both about the people stuff and now about the doggie stuff. But although I’ll wash my hands even more--and hope all those antibacterial cleaners continue to work--I probably won’t do much to change my life.

Give up hugging dogs? Never!

But I have to say that it’s easier to write about the fun things that happen to pets--even in murder mysteries like my Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter series--than to think about dark reality... like flu. At least the werewolves in my Silhouette Nocturne series about Alpha Force are not susceptible.

How about you--does any kind of flu worry you?


Nigel said...

Yes I worry about Flu of all types. It's been a pernicious killer for centuries, if not millenia. (Reading Connie Willis's Doomwatch for example is fascinating and novel)

In the UK there's just as much paranoia as anywhere else - I went to the dentist yesterday and there was a bottle of anti-bacterial gel on the public counter. I used it. However, isn't flu a virus rather than a bacteria? I'm no expert.

Annoyingly there are flu epidemics every year and they all kill. This years pandemic is very quick spreading and has affected us all, but doesn't seem more deadly than bird-flu or chicken-flu or all those previous ones. It's just global - and quickly.

I hope you stay well and free of the scourge. I try to keep it in perspective...

Linda O. Johnston said...

It is scary, Nigel. The strains apparently mutate, so vaccines are always being revised to take that into account, as well as which strains seem prevalent each year. I most certainly hope that all our blog participants and readers and their families stay healthy--and of course their pets, too!

Janie Emaus said...

I'm glad Alpha Force is immune from the flu. And I'm usually not too worried about getting sick myself (knock on wood) but I do worry about my parents and grandkids.

Linda O. Johnston said...

I worry about family members, too, Janie. Mine are doing a bit of traveling these days (me, too!), and the confined area of airplanes might be a place for passing along contagion.

Betty Hechtman said...

I don't worry about getting sick. I do clean my hands often, the old fashioned soap and water way. I fly a lot and have sat next to people who are coughing and sneezing and not caught anything. I think a positive attitude helps a lot.

Linda O. Johnston said...

A positive attitude can't hurt, Betty! Neither will soap and water.

Got Dog Kennels said...

I think it is important to not let fear, panic or paranoia take over. You to your best to use your the knowledge you have to be reasonably sanitary and careful. No need for compulsive behavior.