Canine flu arrives in Canada

Health authorities have confirmed that two dogs rescued from a dog farm in South Korea to be brought to Canada in December in a highly publicized operation are suffering from H3N2 canine flu.

In a statement issued Monday, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit in Ontario revealed that both dogs were suffering from canine influenza. Other dogs that have come into contact with sick animals also have symptoms of the disease, but the results of the tests on these dogs are not yet known.

According to the authorities, this is the first time that cases of canine influenza have been reported in Canada. Dog flu, however, is widespread in Asia and parts of the United States, particularly in animal shelters.

Canine influenza is highly contagious among dogs, warned the Health Bureau, which recommends that an infected dog be separated from its congeners for two weeks. Infected animals develop respiratory problems and may have fever, loss of appetite, and discharge from the eyes and muzzle. The disease is rarely fatal.

Although the strains of H3N2 influenza that attack dogs and humans are not the same and can not be passed from one hope to another, the Health Unit is concerned that both viruses may intermingle to develop a new strain of influenza.

Last December, Humane Society International announced that it had saved 50 dogs that had to finish on the plates in South Korea. Forty-six animals were sent to Quebec, where they were to be adopted, while four remained in Ontario.

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