The Massachusetts Division of Animal Health has informed veterinarians that the canine influenza virus _ or dog flu _ has been found in the state for the first time.
First reported in Florida in 2005, the respiratory illness has been confirmed in four Essex County dogs believed to have been exposed at the same facility in Ipswich.
The disease is a respiratory-tract illness similar to the more common bordetella respiratory disease, known as kennel cough. Dog flu can produce a hacking-type cough, along with repeated throat clearing and frequent swallowing and lethargy.
The Gloucester Daily Times reports that puppies and older dogs as well as dogs already suffering from another illness are particularly vulnerable. It is rarely fatal.
There is a vaccine available.