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Michigan seemingly surrounded by canine influenza outbreak

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Michigan is seemingly surrounded by a deadly outbreak of canine influenza.

The virus has sickened more than 1,000 dogs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana.

In terms of symptoms, the dog flu is actually somewhat similar to human flu.

So, if your dog becomes sluggish or develops a fever or cough, that could be a red flag.

With so many dog owners that treat their four-legged friends like family, as the sickness is spreading, so are fears surrounding it.

"The biggest issue is it's highly infectious," said Dr. Gary Ryder, an emergency veterinarian.

The virus has swept the Chicago area in recent months, killing five dogs and sickening more than 1,000.

Within the past week, almost 20 cases were reported in Indiana, with more in Ohio and Wisconsin.

The question becomes whether or not we'll see it in Michigan.

"It may be here, we just don't test for it," Dr. Ryder said.

Ryder says most dogs who catch the flu can kick it fairly quickly.

"About 5, 10 percent that are getting pneumonia from it, and those pneumonia dogs, that's where it can be life-threatening," he said.

The dog flu is spread just like human flu--through contact with an infected host.

Angela Hertlein, from the "Bark Park" in Portage, says they take extra steps to make sure the dogs are safe.

They disinfect on a daily basis, and only allow vaccinated dogs in.

"It's an absolute must-have; have to have vaccinated creatures because everyone here is safe, so if we let one in, then it would just be riskign the whole herd, in a way," she said.

The dog flu isn't a threat to people, but if your hands or clothes come into contact with a sick dog, you could spread the virus to other pets.

If you think your dog might be sick, you should see a veterinarian right away.

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