A highly contagious airborne virus known as canine influenza is beginning to infect dogs in North Carolina according to public health agencies within the state.

Infections were confirmed earlier this week in Carteret, Rockingham, Wake and Davidson counties by the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association.

Two dogs in the state were also reported to have died as a result of infection, with one of those canines having recently been brought to a dog show in Florida.

The deaths of those dogs were confirmed by Rollins Laboratory, which works with the North Carolina Department of Agricultural & Consumer Services.

According to that laboratory, the virus is spread through close proximity to infected dogs and contact with contaminated items such as bowls and clothing.

The virus may also be spread by people moving between infected and uninfected dogs, but no human infections with canine influenza have ever been reported.

Symptoms include a dry, hacking cough, lack of appetite, lethargy, fever and discharge from the eyes or nose, with treatment requiring veterinary assistance.

The NCVMA is advising dog owners to isolate their pets from other dogs if those symptoms manifest and keep them quarantined for up to 30 days after recovery.

Information on disinfection procedures, preventative vaccinations and cases outside of North Carolina is available through an online advisory at ncagr.gov/vet/aws/canineflu.

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